Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Palestinian Arabs See Israel as a Refuge from their Own Brothers

This is from Dar Al-Hayat in Lebanon.

Palestine… Banks and Strips

Mohammad Salah

It's over. The Arabs no longer have a single Palestine, but two: one in the West Bank, and the other in Gaza Strip. The Palestinians who belong to or support Fatah in Gaza are interlopers in the Strip, hostages of Hamas, which at any time may arrest, exile or kill them. The same goes for the other Palestine, where the disgraceful scene is applied to Palestinian members of Hamas who are in the West Bank. Practically speaking, they are merely a tool of pressure in the hands of Fatah and the Authority, always subject to the West Bank government's retaliation for what befalls its supporters in Gaza. The Shuja'i yya neighborhood incidents in Gaza, what happened to the Hillis clan, the reactions of parties influential in the Palestinian issue to these developments, the flight by Ahmad Hillis and other Palestinians to an Arab city inside the Green Line (Israel) in search of safety away from the bullying and aggression, affirm that the Palestinian issue is on its way to disappearing, evaporating and being forgotten. They also prove that Israel is no longer, for many Palestinians, an occupying party, but rather a refuge or objective one seeks and heads toward when Palestinians oppress each other. Add to this the Arabs' weakness, defeat and inability to have any impact on the course of events and you will get a picture of the future as desired by Israel: a Palestinian Authority that can only rule the area around its headquarters, and an Islamist movement that is settling scores with all of its opponents or those who do not want it to rule. Gangs of Palestinians fight and defeat each other, without realizing that they are only defeating themselves, that this stupidity entails their end, and that they have come to leave their lost homeland in the direction of the occupier.

The Palestinians have settled this issue for themselves. They have proven, leaving no room for doubt, that their state will not be established in our lifetime, even if the president of the United States has promised that it will. It is no longer improbable to see the West Bank divided into two banks, or even more, if some Palestinians reject and oppose the PA, taking up arms against its leaders. It is no longer unlikely to see the Gaza Strip divided into two strips or more, if an armed force rises up against Hamas and defeats it, returning it to the trenches of the opposition. The Palestinians and Arabs will have more than one group of Palestinians. Each group which controls this or that portion of Palestine will then claim it is more concerned about the unity of Palestinians and more dedicated to maintaining all of Palestine, labeling the other sides as foreign agents or people who trade in their own nation and religion.

Some Arab countries might support the president of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas, who is in the West Bank, while others might support, overtly or covertly, Hamas, which controls Gaza. Are they aware that they will find themselves facing more than one Palestinian bank or strip? Are they aware that they will have to face the defeats of the Palestinians brought about by their rulers in the West Bank and the Strip? Are they aware that the time will come when the Arabs will await a promise from the president of the US or another country to establish one Palestinian "Bank," instead of the Palestinian ones, or a single strip, where the entire Diaspora will be gathered, instead of the scattered strips? For years, we have been following the course of the settlement between the Arabs, and particularly the Palestinians, and Israel. What has happened to the efforts to reach such a settlement? They have become attempts to achieve a "cooling-down" period. But the coming task will require greater efforts, and perhaps even more years, to achieve a peaceful settlement between Palestinians in the Strip and the Bank. The time will come when newspapers write about the "cooling-off" period between a Palestinian faction in a strip or bank, and other factions on the other side of the same bank or strip.

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