The Attempted Murder of Palestine
31 July, 2007
By Kathleen Christison
"Coup" is the word being widely used to describe what happened in Gaza in June when Hamas militias defeated the armed security forces of Fatah and chased them out of Gaza. But, as so often with the manipulative language used in the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel, the terminology here is backward. Hamas was the legally constituted, democratically elected government of the Palestinians, so in the first place Hamas did not stage a coup but rather was the target of a coup planned against it. Furthermore, the coup -- which failed in Gaza but succeeded overall when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, acting in violation of Palestinian law, cut Gaza adrift, unseated the Palestinian unity government headed by Hamas, and named a new prime minister and cabinet -- was the handiwork of the United States and Israel.
The Fatah attacks against Hamas in Gaza were initiated at the whim of, and with arms and training provided by, the United States and Israel. No one seems to be making any secret of this. Immediately after Hamas won legislative elections in January 2006, Elliott Abrams, who runs U.S. policy toward Israel from his senior position on the National Security Council staff, met with a group of Palestinian businessmen and spoke openly of the need for a "hard coup" against Hamas. According to Palestinians who were there, Abrams was "unshakable" in his determination to oust Hamas. When the Palestinians, urging engagement with Hamas instead of confrontation, observed that Abrams' scheme would bring more suffering and even starvation to Gaza's already impoverished population, Abrams dismissed their concerns by claiming that it wouldn't be the fault of the U.S. if that happened.
Abrams has been working on his coup plan ever since with his friends in Israel. As part of this scheme, the U.S. also urged Abbas -- again making no secret of this -- to dissolve the Fatah-Hamas unity government formed in March this year, form a new government, and call for new elections. Abbas acceded to U.S. demands with embarrassing alacrity after Hamas took Gaza. In a further gratuitous turn of the screw, he has appealed to Israel to turn up the heat on Hamas in Gaza by stopping delivery of fuel to Gaza's power plant and keeping the Rafah border crossing point from Egypt closed so that none of the thousands of Palestinian waiting at the border to return home will be able to enter.
The UN's outgoing Middle East envoy, Alvaro de Soto, whose final report on his two years in Palestine-Israel was recently leaked to the press, describes Abrams and a State Department colleague, Assistant Secretary David Welch, threatening immediately after the Hamas election victory to cut off U.S. contributions to the UN if it did not agree to a cutback in aid to the Palestinian Authority by the Quartet (of which the UN is a member, along with the U.S., the EU, and Russia). De Soto also describes a gleeful U.S. response to Hamas-Fatah fighting earlier this year. The U.S., he says, clearly pushed for this confrontation, and at a meeting of Quartet envoys, the U.S. delegate crowed that "I like this violence" because "it means that other Palestinians are resisting Hamas."
The Israeli-U.S. strategy for Palestine is now crystal clear: overturn the will of the people (in this case as expressed through democratic elections), kill off any resistance (Hamas in this case, along with any civilians who might get in the way), co-opt a quisling leadership (Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas), push out and kill if necessary as many people as international opinion will allow, ultimately rid Palestine of most Palestinians. The cast of characters and organizations has changed from earlier times, but this has essentially been Israel's strategy from the beginning....
The race now is to see whose strategy prevails and whether the Palestinians in their steadfastness can hold out against Israel's long-term strategy of apartheid, ethnic cleaning, and even, as honest commentators have increasingly begun to label it, genocide....