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Gaza is burning and the Arabs sit and watch

There have been many times when oppressed people resisting their oppressors gain international solidarity for their cause as public opinion sways in their favour. They embody bravery as they continue to resist against their enemies. We saw this pattern manifest itself in Vietnam when the people struggled against the biggest superpower in the world. The Vietnamese demonstrated how they turned to each other for support when the northern city of Hanoi stood as a beacon of light for its counterpart Saigon in the south. Soon after, the southern Vietnamese people embodied the spirit of resistance and achieved all of their goals.

When it comes to the Palestinian case, the situation is entirely different, for in the Gaza Strip (Southern Palestine) we see true armed resistance being engaged in the battle against the Zionist enemy, which is armed with the most sophisticated weapons and is using all of its power and influence throughout the world to frame this conflict as it sees fit; it is from this that the Palestinian people in Gaza can find no escape. Gaza is burning and its natural supporters, the Arabs of the region, sit and watch. The Palestinian Authority under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, based in the West Bank city of Ramallah (which we can consider here to be the northern region of Palestine), should be the biggest advocate for its people in Gaza. And yet, all we here are murmurs and useless statements being made here and there.

On the first day of Israeli aggression against Gaza last Tuesday, President Abbas was speaking at a peace conference in Tel Aviv. He failed to say a single word about what was happening in Gaza. We were very optimistic when we heard that a unity government had been formed between the West Bank and Gaza and we believed that national division had ended once and for all. We believed that this new government would work to prevent Israeli aggression from affecting both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and we said that, soon, this government would work to lift the Egyptian side of the siege on Gaza. Unfortunately, all we have seen is a deafening silence from the current “national unity government” in Ramallah.

The Israeli enemy continues its aggression on Gaza with an easy mind because it knows that Al-Sisi’s Egypt does not mind any form of destruction or aggression that could bring an end to Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip. The new Egypt does not mind if Palestinian resistance is silenced forever, because according to Al-Sisi’s new vision for the Republic, the Gaza Strip and Hamas are sympathisers with, if not offshoots of, the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to bring about the new Egyptian leader’s downfall.

Moreover, Israel is well aware of the fact that the leadership of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah would like nothing more than to clip Hamas’s political wings; it was on this basis that Israel was looking for any excuse to launch an all-out offensive on the Gaza Strip. The excuse given is that members of the Islamic Resistance Movement were the masterminds behind the kidnapping of three Israeli settlers in the West Bank. The settlers were eventually found dead and the Israelis accused Hamas of being responsible even though the movement’s stronghold is in Gaza; from this point onwards, Israel began its aggression towards the Gaza Strip. It is truly disappointing that the government in Ramallah is not acting as a source of support for the people of Gaza as they face Israeli aggression. Instead, it has opted to fuel the hate and blame directed towards them. The PA has banned any protests or activities in support of the Palestinian resistance in Gaza; this, of course, works in Israel’s favour.

Most Arabs today are preoccupied in their own capitals as they engage in bloody wars waged by their own leaders, who want to maintain their grip on authority despite the will of the people. These battles extend from Sana’a to Damascus, from Beirut to Cairo, from Tripoli to the submissive Palestinian Authority that has no intention of resisting the Israeli occupier. It is within this regional milieu that Israel pulled the first thread and began its military offensive.

How strange and bizarre this time is. So strange that America made a proposition for a third party, presumably Arab, to act as a mediator between Israel and Hamas, because the US has no formal relations with the movement. Nevertheless, America has the power and the final say in virtually every armed conflict in the Middle East and it does not seem to want to deter Israel’s aggression against the Palestinians in Gaza. In fact, US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel said recently that Israel has the right to defend itself by all means necessary. French President François Hollande has declared his solidarity with Israel in its confrontation with the Palestinians. The Secretary-General of the United Nations also urged both sides to show restraint in circumstances which prompt multiple questions.

What would happen in the Middle East if Mahmoud Abbas announces that the Palestinian Authority will dissolve itself? After all, there is absolutely no purpose for the PA except for begging, spending money on its followers and making Israel’s job easier through security “cooperation”. What would happen if Abbas announces that, as the West Bank and Gaza are under occupation, Israel must take on its responsibilities as the occupier? What would happen if Jordan stops implementing the terms of the 1994 peace treaty with Israel? What would happen if Hezbollah opens a front in southern Lebanon against Israel as a sign of solidarity with Gaza? What would happen if Egypt opens the Rafah Crossing unconditionally and lifts the siege on Gaza?

Despite being rhetorical, we can guess what the answers would be. For a start, the reality of the current situation will change and both East and West will no longer remain silent when it comes to Israel’s violence against the Palestinian people. A number of the world’s foreign ministers will make their way towards Arab capitals, seeking their approval and consent, as has already happened in the recent past.

When you struggle and your blood is shed; when the Arabs stand in support of the Palestinian struggle; and when the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are united; with all of these factors working together for the benefit of the cause, then the world will have no choice but to respect the entire Palestinian national framework. If national unity were to happen then it would not matter what any European or American mediator’s opinion is on what is happening in Gaza because there would be no difference between those engaged in the struggle and those who are acting as the backbone of support.

The people of Gaza have an invincible will, despite the many hardships they face. Is it possible that the Arabs will unite to support their brave resistance against Israeli aggression? At the moment, the best we can say is that it is not impossible; time will tell.

Translated from Al-Araby Al-Jadid, 13 July, 2014

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