Saturday, June 19, 2010

Another "victory" for Israel

AP reports that Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has called off scheduled municipal elections in the West Bank.  The reason?  Even with Hamas sitting out the election, indications were that Fatah, the secularist nationalist party that Abbas leads, was headed for a drubbing by independent candidates.  According to the report, Fatah . . .

looked sure to triumph in the July 17 elections in 300 towns and villages since Hamas announced it would not compete, fearing its candidates would be targeted in the crackdown Abbas' security forces have waged on the militants since they seized Gaza.

However, last week, with the deadline for registering candidates just hours away, Fatah leaders were getting increasingly worried about problems in many districts. In Nablus, the second largest city, former Mayor Ghassan Shakaa defied local Fatah leaders and formed his own slate, arguing that he would do better as an independent.

In the largest city, Hebron, little-known Fatah candidates seemed poised for defeat by independents.

With these reports in hand, the party leaders called Abbas, who was in Washington at the time, and urged him to cancel the election. Abbas quickly agreed and a terse statement said the vote was being postponed to give reconciliation with Hamas another chance.

Yes, Fatah has been plagued with corruption for many years, starting under its most celebrated leader, Yasir Arafat; but the real reason for its slide in popularity is that Israel's years of delaying tactics (in which the US has  consistently acquiesced for many years)  during the so-called "peace process," accompanied by Fatah's inability to stop the burgeoning Israeli settlement enterprise in the West Bank, left Fatah - and Mr. Abbas - discredited and delegitimized in the eyes of most Palestinians, many of whom consequently turned to Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections.  Hamas was democratically elected to power (in an election, by the way, that at the time the US insisted take place); the US and Israel refused to accept the results (so much for the US's democracy promotion in the Middle East); Israel arrested dozens of Hamas parliamentarians, with the US cheerleading the effort; and then Israel and US turned to Abbas as the truly "legitimate" Palestinian leader.

In truth, Abbas has been turned into a pathetic puppet to be manipulated by his American benefactors as they have seen fit.  Hence, his party's political fortunes are on the ropes.

And Israel can chalk up another win.  It can continue its oft-repeated wail that it has no "partner" for peace (gee, ya think?) . . . and keep on doing whatever it wants to do, whenever it wants to, to keep Abbas and the West Bank under its thumb . . . and Gaza, under its heel.

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