By Yasser Za’atra
What can the President, the Palestinian Authority, and the Palestinian Legislative Council do for the former Hamas minister and three parliamentarians who Israel has decided to deport from Jerusalem? Apart from timid condemnations that will not change a thing – nothing of course.
When the Israeli authorities agreed to allow the people of Jerusalem to participate in the legislative elections, including Hamas, it did so in order to make those elections possible and out of a conviction that there is a need for Jerusalem’s Arab citizens to remain an integral part of the Palestinian Authority. These citizens, however, pose a demographic and economic burden to the occupation and it will not object to the transfer of some of these towns annexed to Jerusalem after the occupation of 67, back to the Palestinian Authority as part of final status negotiations.
The plan was for the elections to lead to a victory for Fatah and its new leadership along with reasonable gains for Hamas. It was thought that this would amount to an endorsement of the long-term transitional solution put forward by Sharon. This so-called solution was later considered a provisional Palestinian state, while Netanyahu called it economic peace.
However, when Hamas surprisingly won the elections, it was confronted by political realities that questioned its resistance program and efforts to remove it from the same electoral door it entered. Soon after operation “Disappearing Trick” was carried out in which the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, was abducted, Hamas was immediately targeted and subjected to an ugly campaign which turned its MPs in the West Back into detainees in Israeli jails. This was of course done to disable the Legislative Council; it was no coincidence, therefore, that all Hamas MPs received sentences in the range of forty months so they would only be released when preparations for new elections were well underway.
The military settlement in mid June 2007, which came after the arrest of the Hamas MPs, gave the Palestinian Authority the green light to target everything linked to Hamas on the one hand, and to start serious preparations for the Sharon – Netanyahu draft project on the other. This draft project, which was under the supervision of General Dayton and Tony Blair, has now been re-labelled by Mr. Salam Fayyad as a de facto state, and is sometimes called the stage of institution-building in preparation for the declaration of the State.
Today, pressure is put on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, through the siege, and in the West Bank through continued repression and persecution. This situation is allowed to continue as a means of forcing it to accept the conditions of the Quartet. What is now happening to the Jerusalem MPs is an integral part of this campaign, and it is therefore not surprising that the Palestinian Authority is colluding with both tracks at the same time. Their aim is to convince the Palestinian people of the equality between the two groups; between Hamas and those who reject resistance, accept international conditions, and accept elections, which should return the situation to what it used to be.
The bottom line is that what is happening to the MPs of Jerusalem, only exposes the mission and raison d’être of the Palestinian Authority and, consequently, the goal for which holding of elections in all areas, including Jerusalem with the participation of Hamas, was facilitated. It also exposes the goal of getting Hamas to surrender.
All this confirms that the allegations that Hamas has given up resistance and accepted what was accepted by Fatah are false. If they were true, this series of measures to exert pressure on them wouldn’t be needed.
Hamas is now accumulating military power in the Strip, which according to Israeli policies is prohibited. At the same time, it refuses to recognize the occupying state, while the President of the Authority assures the leaders of Zionist organizations that he does not deny the right of Jews to the land of Palestine. Thus, can these two be equal?
From this we find that those who talk about equality of the parties express their wishes and fixations more than the facts on the ground. They should prove themselves wise enough to take notice. As for the case of Jerusalem, it will remain the most complicated of the settlement issues and will reveal the underlying scam which may be sufficient to spark the new Intifada in spite of the pro-negotiations camp.
Source: Al Dustour Newspaper, Jordan
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.