Friday, February 10, 2006

ANARCHY IN THE P.A.

Whilst the C of E have been planning to divest from Israel, international monitors have been forced out of Hebron as Hamas-run Palestine takes a lurch towards anarchy:
International monitors in Hebron, in the West Bank, are leaving after their office was attacked by Palestinians protesting over the Muhammad cartoons.

A spokeswoman for the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (Tiph) said the withdrawal would be temporary.

Hundreds of protesters hurled stones and bottles and smashed windows at the building housing the mission.

Eleven Danish personnel left after the row erupted last week. The cartoons were first published in Denmark.

In Wednesday's attack, rioters forced open a door of the building and reports say the unarmed observers had to wave clubs in order to drive them away.

Palestinian police were outnumbered by protesters but eventually pushed the crowd back and allowed the 60-strong European team to leave the city.

The international presence was established in 1994, intended to be a buffer following the killing of 29 Palestinians by a Jewish settler.
Things are getting pretty serious when diplomats are having to face raging mobs with cudgels. And don't expect too much of the Palestinian police - most of them are allied with Fatah and politically have much to gain by allowing lawlessness to promulgate under Hamas. There's certainly no love lost between the two factions:
"We'll show them hell as an opposition, and we will turn the Palestinian Authority security forces into armed militia led by Al Aqsa," Ramzi Obeidi, a leader of the Fatah-allied Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, told the crowd.

Other Fatah activists staged angry protests throughout the
West Bank, including in Nablus.

"We are now no longer part of the cease-fire," an Al Aqsa gunman, Nasser Haras, told the crowd, referring to a year-old truce with Israel.

In Tulkarem, gunman Ibrahim Khreisheh warned against cooperating with Hamas. "Whoever will participate in a government with Hamas, we will shoot him in the head," he said.

...

Clashes have already broken out between the two sides. Hamas gunmen wounded two policemen in Gaza early Saturday in what authorities said was a roadside ambush. The attack came hours after another firefight wounded a Hamas activist and two police officers, one of whom was in a coma Saturday.
That article was written two weeks ago. Things haven't improved much since if the following two stories from yeesterday are anything to by. Firstly:
Scores of Aqsa Martyrs brigades (the armed wing of Fatah) members stormed the ministry of finance building in Gaza on Monday demanding their monthly wages.

The action came when the militants, who had been given jobs in the Palestinian Authority security forces, did not receive their monthly wages with the rest of the other security forces employees, local sources reported.
Secondly, gunmen have kidnapped an Egyptian diplomat in Gaza:
Gunmen abducted an Egyptian military attaché in Gaza yesterday, the latest incident in a resurgence of unrest in the territory since last month's Palestinian elections.

The kidnappers shot at a car in which the diplomat, Hussam el-Musli, was travelling in Gaza City, forcing it to stop. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Palestinian Authority officials ordered a search for Mr Musli as Mahmoud Abbas, PA president, warned he would not allow anyone to harm relations with Egypt.

Israel, meanwhile, closed the main Erez crossing point into Gaza after soldiers there came under gun and grenade attack yesterday. Israeli soldiers killed two attackers in the exchange of fire.

In a separate incident in the same area, a man Palestinians identified as a local farmer was killed when Israeli soldiers fired on two men they believed were planting a bomb.

The Israeli military has killed 14 Palestinians in the past week, most of them in targeted missile strikes on militants in response to an upsurge of rocket attacks from Gaza on southern Israel. On Wednesday, a rocket hit the industrial zone of Ashkelon, the Israeli city nearest to Gaza.
An interesting title for the article too - "Gaza's post-election calm broken by envoy's abduction". Israeli and Palestinian rockets firing over each other with 14 dead counts as "calm"? I'd hate to see how bad things would have to get for the hacks at the FT to describe the situation as "stormy."

To finish the round-up, there's an article in the NRO today by Barry Rubin that is a must read - "The World Misread Fatah. Will it Misread Hamas?"
For years Fatah, under the leadership of Yasir Arafat, was widely understood in the West to be a normal, potentially pragmatic, nationalist movement that simply wanted a state of its own, an end to its followers' oppression and an improvement in their living standards. If the organization used terrorism it was only because either Israel treated Palestinians so badly or because they had not yet been made a good enough offer for statehood. Given a clear opportunity to have a country of their own alongside Israel, Palestinian leaders would surely grab it--if only a stubborn Jewish State would let them.

With this depiction of the movement passing for accepted wisdom in much of the West, there was a reluctance to consider some alternative explanations for the Palestinian leadership's behavior: that it might be incapable of--or even uninterested in--making peace; that it was too dominated by extremists to morph into a peaceful, stable state; or that terrorism, far from being a pragmatic political tool of the marginalized and desperate, was in fact an expression of a genocidal urge that had always dominated the PLO and that the organization had successfully implanted in the West Bank and Gaza. To be sure, not all Palestinian leaders were complicit in this; there have always been moderates in the movement. But the moderates remained a minority in the PLO, unable to compete with the gunmen and radical ideologues who actually ran things. Indeed, on several occasions, PLO members were murdered by their colleagues for expressing moderate views, further marginalizing reasonable voices within the organization.

Why did the West misunderstand the Palestinian movement so badly? First, because Palestinians were mainly content to be seen as victims--indeed this was the leadership's strategy--and in the modern world there is a strong predisposition to believe the weaker side is always right. There was an ugly and ironic racialist bias here on the part of many supposedly progressive Europeans and Americans: that Third World residents and even their leaders are only reflections of Western oppression, incapable of having goals or views of their own.

Second, to understand the movement as extremist and dominated by violent men who wanted only to destroy Israel would have thrown considerable doubt on the possibility of achieving peace. Many Westerners--some well intentioned, some less so--sought peace above all else, and therefore indulged wishful thinking about Arafat and his movement. In order to preserve their credibility as peace brokers, they wanted to maintain a "balanced" attitude towards the two sides in the conflict. In this approach, however, to be a prospective mediator apparently required being a bad analyst.

Third, many in the West tend to project their values onto others. They find it hard to accept that there are groups whose ideologies cannot be moderated by real-world compromise. The rise of Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks were a strong challenge to this worldview, but not enough to dislodge it as the West's main framework for understanding the Palestinian national movement.
Tasty stuff. Get stuck in!

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