Since my stay in a boiling hot Bethlehem last summer, I’ve tried to keep up with the political life in the Holy land. But for some reason, I haven’t felt the least engaged in the on-going election in the occupied territories. Somehow it all just feels meaningless. The Hamas’ election victory won’t make much difference to the Palestinians.

The Guardian was almost alone in reporting that Hamas, about two weeks ahead of the election, made an interesting change in its manifesto:
“The manifesto makes no mention of the destruction of the Jewish state and instead takes a more ambiguous position by saying that Hamas had decided to compete in the elections because it would contribute to ‘the establishment of an independent state whose capital is Jerusalem’.”
One of the party’s candidates, Gazi Hamad explained that liberating the West Bank and Gaza is its main priority. Whether Israel has a right to exist or not is a later issue:
“Hamas is talking about the end of the occupation as the basis for a state, but at the same time Hamas is still not ready to recognise the right of Israel to exist. We cannot give up the right of the armed struggle because our territory is occupied in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. That is the territory we are fighting to liberate.”[1]
The Likud party won the election in Israel in January 2004 on promises that no Palestinian state would be established west of the Jordan River and that Likud would continue to strengthen the Jewish settlements. Few criticised this as problematic. But when Hamas says that there should be no Jewish Apartheid state, it’s all of a sudden a great obstacle to peace. Politicians from all over the world demand Hamas to denounce violence against civilians, but they never ask any Israeli Prime Minister to do the same. The Swedish physician Gunnar Olofsson commented on the outcome of the election:
“Following the success of Hamas in the Palestinian election, the EU has to reconsider its outlook towards the Palestinians. In the long run it isn’t sustainable to label whole populations as terrorists. For instance, according to the same principle, the whole Israeli people – who time after time elects old terrorists as its leaders – would be labeled as terrorists. And so would the Americans for electing the international terrorist Bush as their president.”[2]
Hamas’ victory doesn’t really matter to Israel either. The Zionists do as they like, even if the get a “compromising” Palestinian as their counterpart. President Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, is a proof of this. Few people are as ingratiating as Abbas. He is more involved is criticising his own oppressed people than the occupiers. He gives the impression that the Palestinians are the cause of the conflict, that the Palestinians must prove they can govern themselves before Israel is obligated to put an end to its state terrorism. As a rule, one might say that you should be critical toward the favourite candidate of the occupying regime. If we look at what Abbas has achieved under his years as president, it is understandable why his Fateh lost to Hamas.
To my great surprise, Abbas started off his career by supporting the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees:
“We promise you [Arafat] that our heart will not rest until we achieve the Right of Return for our people and end the tragic refugee issue.”[3]
Not bad! But after reading his statement, I was even more surprised by the lack of immediate condemnations from Israel and the U.S. Why didn’t they accuse him of being impossible to deal with, just like they accused Arafat? Looking back, the only reasonable answer is that they knew he wasn’t being serious, he was just trying to present himself as a tough negotiator devoted to defending Palestinian human rights.
Predictably, it wasn’t long before Abbas proved to be fully prepared to sacrifice the Right of Return. He has shown a much more compromising face towards Israel than what is reasonable under the circumstances. A year ago he was hopeful about making peace with his counterpart Sharon. Abbas declared:
“We believe peace is possible now and we are ready to negotiate with Israel to reach a true and lasting peace based on justice and international legitimacy.”
“We have an opportunity and it would be irresponsible if we, the Israelis, or the world allow it to slip away”[4]
Wrong. There was and is no opportunity for peace. Israel is making “peace” on its own, by building the Apartheid Wall and – by doing so – drawing its own borders. Israeli Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni has affirmed it; the Apartheid Wall is here to stay. The Palestinians will be stuck with less than 15 per cent of their land. We’re talking about Palestinian prison-states similar to the Bantustans in Apartheid South Africa. While officially questioning Israel’s intentions, Abbas hasn’t done much to change the focus towards the everyday suffering of the Palestinian people. Time after time he seeks negotiation with Israel, and time after time they come up with an excuse for dismissing him. The so called “negotiations” and “talks” always end in the same way; Israel demands of Abbas to put an end to all terror against Israel, and when this is done, Israel says, it will be ready to talk. Abbas never demands anything in return, and since attacks on Israel will never cease until Israel stops terrorising the Palestinians, it is always Abbas and his people who break the “agreement.”
While the Palestinian President is doing everything in his power to get the Zionists to the negotiation table, the occupying regime is annexing more and more land in the West Bank and turning Gaza into an island isolated from the outside world. Instead of exposing this obvious obstacle for peace, Mr. Abbas seems more interested in combating Palestinian resistance fighters. The Independent reveals:
“Mr. Abbas, who will hold talks with Tony Blair and Jack Straw, before tomorrow’s conference to bolster support for the Palestinian Authority (PA), confirmed Israel has shared information with it in the hunt for the organisers of the bombing, which was claimed by Islamic Jihad.” [5]
Abbas has even gone further, calling for a full disarming of Hamas.
“When a militia turns into a political party, I believe the issue of a need for arms becomes irrelevant. There will be only one authority, one law and one legal [armed] force.”[6]
Before anyone asks, let me make clear that I don’t support terror attacks against civilians, and that includes against Israeli civilians. But it is still strange that Abbas chooses to cooperate with people who do everything they can to ethnically cleanse the land of Palestinians. Not that suicide bombings against civilian does much good for the Palestinian cause, but cooperating with Israel like this isn’t acceptable under the current situation.
And what will happen if the Palestinians disarm in favour of a force under the control of Abbas? Answer: No more armed struggle against the occupiers. This is also what we saw under Yasser Arafat’s years in power, and Abbas is even more ingratiating. The PA even agreed not to let its Police officers carry weapons under an agreement with Israel. The sad fact is that without armament there wouldn’t be many Palestinians left in the country.
During the Gaza evacuation the Israelis demanded to be protected by the Palestinians. Abbas didn’t seem to disapprove to the demand but rather criticised his fellow Palestinians for not providing security for the Israeli soldiers and settlers. So it is the occupied people that are to provide protection for the occupiers. No wonder Hamas has grown stronger during Abbas’ presidency.
Fateh is weak and corrupt and hasn’t done much to battle Israel, while Hamas has managed to organise a resistance against the Zionists. Ideologically I am not that close to Hamas, but they have realised that armed struggle is necessary as it gives them something to bargain with. The Palestinians were defenseless in 1948, resulting in the expulsion of 80 per cent of the population. If they would abandon all arms today it could lead to a disaster, especially if the new national army would be taking orders from Abbas. Without the victory in the election everything would have stayed the same.
But after all, the Palestinian election is just a show to please the Western World, as if the Palestinians only deserve human rights if they arrange “free” elections once in a while. Israel is the true ruler of the occupied territories. In prison, the right to vote doesn’t make much of a difference. I had the honour of meeting the Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu in Jerusalem last year and took the opportunity to ask him what he thought was Sharon’s plan for Gaza after the evacuation of the Jewish settlers. I asked in particular what he thought of the warning that Sharon was to evacuate them in order to reinstate them later. Vanunu replied:
“Yes, Sharon can do such a thing. But I don’t know what he wants to do. Does he want to arrest all the Palestinians and put them in a concentration camp? The Gaza Strip is already a concentration camp.”
While this election makes little difference for the Palestinian people, another election in a country far away is of greater importance to them. A surprisingly clear – and humoristic – analysis of American presidential elections was broadcast on Swedish television a while ago. It was a special episode of an American show, so maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s called The Simpsons. Here is what happened (recalled from memory):
Two aliens had just arrived to earth in order to colonise it. The first person they abduct happens to be the beer-drinking Homer Simpson. They wanted to know who is in charge of the world and Homer tips them off – President Clinton might be a good idea. It was shortly before a presidential election so they also kidnapped his opponent. The aliens disguised themselves by taking the bodies of the two presidential candidates. But in front of a large group of people the day before the election, Homer exposes them as the aliens they are. The audience was shocked and a man shouted:
“I’m going to vote for someone else!”
“Ha-ha,” one of the aliens laughed scornfully. “There’s nothing you can do – it’s a two-party system.”
“He’s right,” one in the audience quickly interjected.
After the election the next day, the humans were enslaved by the aliens. Homer’s wife Marge made an unhappy comment about the situation. Clever as always, Homer replied:
“Don’t blame me. I voted for the other.”
Of course it didn’t matter if the other alien would have won because the result would have been the same. Now, Simpsons is a just cartoon but there is some truth to it. Gore Vidal once called the U.S. “a one-party state with two parties.” In many question, including Middle East issues, I have no doubt he is right.
In less than two years the Americans will be voting for someone to replace Bush. As always, up-coming presidential elections in the U.S. will mean trouble for the Palestinians.
From 1988 to 1992, the surname of the American President was Bush. During the following eight years it was Clinton. After Clinton, it was Bush again – this time for eight years. For some reason I have a feeling the name Bush will once again be replaced by a Clinton. In spite of being a woman, Hillary Clinton might well be the future President of the United States of America. She has already shown that the presidency is her goal. There are millions of people disappointed with the Republicans’ warfare in the Middle East. Especially minorities and the middle class, who have lost a lot in Bush’s reforms and foreign policies, would be prepared to listen to the Democrats. But instead, Hillary goes to Israel to support the Apartheid Wall and to hail the Israeli Prime Minister.
“This [wall] is not against the Palestinian people,” Clinton reassured. “This is against the terrorists. The Palestinian people have to help to prevent terrorism. They have to change the attitudes about terrorism.”[7]
She didn’t meet with any Palestinian official, nor did she visit the West Bank or Gaza. No, her purpose was to declare that Israel comes first. In The Science Daily[8] we were informed that:
“In 1999, Clinton traveled to the West Bank as first lady and was acclaimed there as a champion of Palestinian nationhood because of comments she had made in 1998 that seemed to express support for a Palestinian state. The comments, criticized by some American Jewish groups, were disavowed by the White House, the newspaper said.
In her 2000 Senate race, Clinton staked out a number of positions that appealed to Jewish voters, declaring, for example, that Jerusalem should be the ‘eternal and indivisible capital of Israel.’”
If Hillary Clinton feels a need to denounce comments “that seemed to express support for a Palestinian state,” the U.S. being led by her would be horrible for the Palestinians.
But going all the way to Israel isn’t necessary in order to stand a chance at the upcoming presidential election. Speaking at the Annual Convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) will do just fine. Acting by the principle of Israel-first, Senator Clinton took the opportunity to threaten Iran.
“And of course, one of the areas I am deeply concerned about is Iran, and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, because a nuclear-armed Iran would shake the foundation of global security to its very core. Israel would be most immediately and profoundly threatened by this development, but Israel would not be alone. Knowing of Iran’s historic and present ties to terrorist networks, how would we feel, here in America, if the Iranians could start producing nuclear weapons at will? How would the Europeans feel if Iran could start producing nuclear weapons at will?”
“So let us be unequivocally clear. A nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable, but it is not just unacceptable to Israel and to the United States. It must be unacceptable to the entire world, starting with the European governments and people.”[9]
Jeff Blankfort commented on it: “This was the speech that the person most likely to be the next candidate for President for the Democrats in 2008 made in April 2005 at the AIPAC Convention, acknowledging that the main goal of this unregistered foreign agency is to get the US to launch a war against Iran. And why not? They succeeded in getting the US into a war in Iraq and even the anti-war movement refuses to acknowledge it. There is still time to stop her but will anyone bother?”
Hillary is playing the pro-Israel card so strongly because she knows it might be the determining factor. Since she sticks to it devoutly, we can expect the Republican counterpart struggling to present himself as even more pro-Israeli than Hillary. In the campaigns for the election we can expect much Palestinian blood to be sacrificed by the terrorists in Washington. They will probably blame Hamas for it, but it all comes down to some people wanting to make a political career. If you’re going for the presidency in the U.S., I can think of nothing better than promising to serve the pro-Israel lobby in Washington.
By: Kristoffer Larsson
[1] Hamas drops call for destruction of Israel from manifesto, Guardian January 12, 2006;,3858,5372294-103681,00.html
[2] Sluta att terrorstämpla palestinierna!, Altahrir 26/01/06 (my translation from Swedish /KL);
[3] Abbas: I won’t give up demand for right of return of refugees, Haaretz 24/11/04.
[4] We must not let this opportunity slip away, says Abbas, Independent 28/02/05.
[5] We must not let this opportunity slip away, says Abbas, Independent 28/02/05.
[6] Abbas speaks out on disarming Hamas after July elections, Haaretz 26/04/05.
[7] Sen. Clinton: I support W. Bank fence, PA must fight terrorism, Haaretz 13/11/05.
[8] Hillary Clinton clarifies Israel support, Science Daily 13/11/05.