Hey… Didn’t We Have a Peace Partner Back in 2005?
Here we sit in 2007 not only with the physical division of the patchwork known as the Palestinian territories but now with its political division. The world flocks upon the West Bank, upon Abbas with words of praise and promises of ending a crippling financial aid embargo. And Gaza sits in misery.
As if Abbas’s new found courage or grasp at keeping hold to power were not only a new bundle of joy but as if it were the first grandchild, the US and Israel are beaming like proud new grandparents usually do. Isreal has been heard cooing:
“We have a new opportunity … that we haven’t had in a long time,” Olmert told reporters before leaving Israel. “A government that is not Hamas is a partner.”
and this too:
“Like you, I want to strengthen the moderates,” Olmert said.
Somehow though, everyone has forgotten this generations first grandchild. Somehow these proud grandparents have forgotten that we had a peace partner just two years back. Somehow they have forgotten that there was a government without Hamas. They threw the baby out with the bath water and pretended it never existed. But the parents of that baby will never forget. The Palestinians gave them that grandchild once allready. Do we honestly believe that the Palestinians will forget their first born of this generation?
The 2005 Palestinian presidential election — the first to be held since 1996 — took place on January 9, 2005 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Voters elected PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas as the new President of the Palestinian Authority to replace Yasser Arafat, who died on November 11, 2004.
Seven candidates contested the election. Abbas won over 62% of the votes cast, with independent Mustafa Barghouti coming second, on just under 20%, and the remaining candidates far behind.
The election was boycotted by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In the Gaza Strip, where Hamas is strongest, it is estimated that about half of the eligible voters voted.
Their it was their pride and joy; their hope to peace; their offering to the world; their moderate. And once again the call for peace was lost. Instead they were asked the impossible.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was unusually upbeat, describing the results as a “positive first step.” But he and other Israeli officials stressed that the militant organizations must ultimately be disarmed.
In the past, Israel has been dismissive of efforts by Palestinian officials to strike an accord with the militant groups. Sharon’s comments followed a telephone conversation with President Hosni Mubarak and seemed to be a nod to the Egyptian leader’s role as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Abbas’ stature depends on his convincing the Palestinians that he has the power to win concessions from Israel that will improve their daily lives. More than four years of conflict with Israel have left much of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip battered and impoverished.
Just how could such a task be accomplished when most of their security devices had been destroyed in 2002 by Israel? How could it be accomplished when even simple amo was in shortage and Israel had to approve of arms and ammunition shipments? Even recieving armored vehicles from Russia and the US was denied:
Reports about Russia’s intention to hand over 50 reconnaissance machines to Palestine have repeatedly appeared in regional and international press. Gissin stated that Israeli officials discussed the issue with spokespeople for the Russian authorities, but the Israeli side did not express its support of the question during the talks, of course. “We said that we had no objections to delivering helicopters to Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas). As for the suggestion to hand over 50 armored vehicles to Palestine, Palestinian authorities should first take adequate measures within the scope of the anti-terrorist struggle,” Gissin said.
No arms, no ammunition and no protection. Disarming the militants would have been suicide. Isn’t that what made Abbas the moderate? Then they punished him for not wanting to go on a suicide mission.
Was it really any surprise that the Palestinians went and elected Hamas? It isn’t much different than when the Israelis went and elected Sharon, the god-father of settlements and in the eyes of the Palestians a terrorist. The Clinton plan didn’t work the olive branch was denied; the Israelis put out their hawk.
While there is no justification to suicide bombings or even raining rockets upon civillians, it is not one sided, there have been numerous missed opportunities on both sides and not the typical “the Palestinians never miss to miss an opportunity”.
Today the conflict takes a new turn. It no longer will be as simple as Fatah/Hamas struggles or Israel/Palestinian peace talks. We’re now looking at something more sinister. With the international community jumping to aid the West Bank and Fatah, with Israel tightening the noose upon Gaza and Hamas there are two questions: What role will Iran play in all of this? How much will the innocent Gaza civillians suffer?
Palestinians didn’t fail alone. Israelis didn’t fail alone. We collectively failed – we failed on an international level. Hush little baby, don’t say a word..