January 29, 2006

The Qalqilya effect?

Here's an article by Ali Abunimah in Electronic Intifada explaining the significance, in so far as it can, of the recent Hamas victory.
The election result is not entirely surprising, however, and has been foreshadowed by recent events. Take for example the city of Qalqilya in the north of the West Bank. Hemmed in by Israeli settlements and now completely surrounded by a concrete wall, the city's fifty thousand residents are prisoners in a Israeli-controlled giant ghetto. For years Qalqilya's city council was controlled by Fatah but after the completion of the wall, voters in last years' municipal elections awarded every single city council seat to Hamas. The Qalqilya effect has now spread across the occcupied territories, with Hamas reportedly winning virtually all of the seats elected on a geographic basis. Thus Hamas' success is as much an expression of the determination of Palestinians to resist Israel's efforts to force their surrender as it is a rejection of Fatah. It reduces the conflict to its most fundamental elements: there is occupation, and there is resistance.

For Palestinians under occupation, it is not yet clear what Hamas' win will mean. It is now common to speak of a Palestinian "government" being formed out of the election results, as though Palestine were already a sovereign and independent state. But if the first duty of a government is to protect its people's lives, liberty and property, then the Palestinian Authority has never deserved to be called a government. Since its inception, it has not been able to protect Palestinians from lethal daily attacks by the Israeli army in the heart of their towns and refugee camps, or to prevent a single dunum of land being seized for settlements, nor to save a single sapling of the more than one million trees uprooted by Israel in the past ten years. Rather, in Israel's conception the Palestinian Authority was supposed to crush Palestinian resistance to make the occupied territories safe for continued Israeli colonization. Hamas will certainly not allow that to continue, but whether it will be able to tranform the Authority into an arm of the struggle against Israel is by no means certain. Hamas, which has observed a unilateral truce with Israel for a year, has signalled that it wants to continue this if Israel "reciprocates." The movement clearly believes it can make such an offer from a position of strength and it is to its tactical advantage to leave uncertainty about when and how it might resume full-scale armed resistance
It's interesting that this unilateral truce of Hamas has received so little coverage. It's now nearly a year old. google Hamas truce and it comes up as news. Google anything that's one year old, anything now, and see if it comes up on Google news.

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