In December the US weapons industry trade publication Defense News carried a telling interview with two top big-wigs in the Palestinian Authority. These were PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and mukhabarat chief Major General Majid Faraj.
The magazine’s Israel bureau chief, who conducted the interviews, described them as “the top two advisers” to PA leader Mamoud Abbas. Abbas is now 80 years old, has no clear successor, and has claimed he will not stand again for elections to the presidency of the PA.
In fact, Abbas has only won a single election, way back in 2005. Fresh elections are years overdue, and have been blocked at every turn. Back in 2006 Hamas, Palestine’s Islamic resistance movement, won elections to the PA’s legislative body. After a months of civil war with forces loyal to Abbas, the elected Hamas-led PA government was overthrown in a coup in the West Bank. Hamas pre-empted a similar coup in Gaza and kicked out militias loyal to Mohammad Dahlan, who had been backed by the CIA, Israel and other Western forces in an attempt to overthrow the results of a fully democratic election.Since then there have been varying degrees of division between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the forces of Fatah in the West Bank. Various “unity deals” have come and gone without being implemented.
The reality is that elections to the PA were always for show, so that the West could claim it was backing the forces of democracy in the region. When the democratic processes did not go the way that the imperial power and its allies insisted on, the results could be overthrown.
Last week top leaders from Hamas, Palestine’s Islamic liberation movement, made an official visit to South Africa. The delegation, led by Khaled Meshaal himself, visited the country at the invitation of the African National Congress, the ruling party.
At a press conference, it was explained that the ANC and Hamas had signed a letter of intent aimed at fostering closer relations between the two liberation movements. The goal, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe explained, is to build “a long lasting relationship” between the two parties.
The Israeli government was unsurprisingly not happy about the invitation, and summoned the South African ambassador in Tel Aviv to protest at the conferring of legitimacy on what it claims is a “terrorist” group.
But ANC spokespeople responded that their leaders were once considered to be “terrorists” by western governments too, and that it regarded Hamas’ struggle against Israeli occupation to be a legitimate one.
Reports have trickled out over the summer that Israel and Hamas are engaged in indirect negotiations in Doha. The reports, some of which have originated with Middle East Eye, say that the talks have been facilitated by Tony Blair, and are aimed at establishing a long-term ceasefire in exchange for a lifting of the siege on Gaza and other conditions.
On the lie of Israeli “Hamas = ISIS = al-Qaida” propaganda:
ISIS (which began as a branch of al-Qaeda before going off on its own tangent) by way of contrast envisions an “Islamic” supra-state which would stretch over the whole Levant, or Greater Syria region, as well as Iraq.
Al-Qaeda, despite the historic rhetoric from Osama bin Laden about the plight of the Palestinians, has long condemned Hamas as apostate movement for its nationalism, and for participation in democratic elections. ISIS seems to be following along the same path, and is now stretching these rhetorical attacks into armed attacks,
Since 2007, Hamas, elected to power in 2006, has had a firm grip on the coastal strip in terms of security. It has met and bested several security challenges over the years from different sources.
Reports in the British press suggest that Sir John has cleared the Brotherhood of any violent extremist tendencies. It is “not a terrorist organisation but should be more open about its dealings,” is how The Independent summarised the findings on Monday, when the report failed to materialise.
If the South African spy’s account is accurate, it only goes to show the hypocritical nature of American policy on Hamas. Although in public the US states its refusal to negotiate with Hamas, the reality on the ground may force them to do so in secret. Hamas is a part of Palestinian society, runs many charitable and social programmes and was voted into power in landslide PA elections in 2006.
I spoke to the South African Muslim community radio station Voice of the Cape about Hamas’ now-famous attack on the Nahal Oz Israeli military base near Gaza. The video we discuss is embedded below. I also wrote a column about the incident.