|Israel, US pushing for Palestinian civil war
By Khalid Amayreh
Sep 10, 2006, 13:49
The Bush Administration in coordination with Israel has been bullying the weak Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas to form an emergency government made up mainly of Fatah elements for the purpose of deposing the legitimate democratically elected government of Prime Minister Ismael Haniya.
According to reliable sources in Ramallah, American officials, including Special Envoy David Welch, have been pushing for the idea for sometime, hoping that a Fatah coup against the existing Hamas-led government might spark a confrontation between the two biggest Palestinian factions.
Of course, the Americans didnt say they wanted civil war, but everyone knows that forming an emergency government without any coordination with Hamas is a prescription for civil war, said a high-ranking PA official.
As to the Israelis, they have been dreaming of and fantasizing about a Palestinian civil war since 1967, said the official, who demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to make statements to the media.
On Saturday, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo DAlema, who had met with Abbas in Ramallah earlier this week, was quoted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz as saying that Abbas would decide to create an emergency government or to a government of national unity with Hamas within a few days.
Meanwhile, Abbas was due to travel to Gaza Monday, 11 September, for further talks on the formation of a national unity government with Haniya.
Haniya spokesman Ahmed Yousuf told PIC that Fatah and Hamas were discussing details of the political program to be adopted by the upcoming government.
The time factor is very crucial, we dont have many days left, we have to get done with this task as soon as possible because our people are suffering and cant wait much longer.
Yousuf said it was possible the contemplated unity government would see the light in two weeks, depending on the extent of conformity reached between Hamas and Fatah.
Yousuf pointed out that should the option of a national unity government fail to materialize, the government would look into the possibility of forming a government of experts.
Such a government was proposed this week by a number of Fatah leaders, including former information minister Nabil Amr.
Earlier, on Friday, Haniya told thousands of worshipers in Gaza that the resignation of his government was out of the question.
The government is not going to resign. We have no thoughts of resignation or dismantling the Palestinian Authority.
Haniya said talks with the PA toward the creation of a broader coalition government was continuing but warned that such a government would have to cling to national constants, including ending the Israeli occupation and releasing all Palestinian hostages and prisoners languishing in Israeli jails and detention camps.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Tony Blair held talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in a renewed effort to revive the moribund peace process.
In Occupied West Jerusalem, Blair pointed out during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Saturday night that the situation in the Middle East , including what is happening in Palestine , was affecting his own country.
Blair reportedly urged Olmert to renew talks with the PA and take measures to alleviate the already hermetic blockade on Palestinians especially in the Gaza Strip where the territorys 1.3 million inhabitants have been pushed to the brink of starvation and despair, thanks to a claustrophobic Israeli blockade, unseen since the 1967 war when Israel seized the Strip from Egypt .
This week, Karen Abu Zayd, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said conditions in Gaza had reached the breaking point.
Strangulation of commerce and trade has ruined the economy, brought institutions of government to a point of near meltdown and badly shaken the society. These pressure tactics have not resulted in a desire for compromise but rather have created mass despair, anger and a sense of helplessness and abandonment.
Blair has been attacked and lampooned severely by British political circles, including his own Labor party, as well as by the press for subservience to the Bush administration and also for supporting Israel too much.
During the 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah in August, Blair effectively supported the indiscriminate bombing by the Israeli air force of Lebanese civilians and civilian infrastructure.
He also publicly opposed a ceasefire in the early days of the war, blaming Hizbullah for provoking Israel and utterly ignoring the abduction and internment by Israel of hundreds of Lebanese civilians.
Blair, in a further show of bias against the Palestinians, met with the families of Israeli soldiers taken prisoners by Hizbullah and Palestinian resistance. During his visit, he made no mention of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners even when he called for the release of Israeli prisoners.
Israel is holding as many as 10,000 Palestinian prisoners and hostages, including government ministers and lawmakers.
Israel hopes to use the prisoners as bargaining cards when and if final-status talks are held with the Palestinians.
On Sunday, Palestinians in Ramallah demonstrated against Blair, calling him George Bushs poodle and a liar.
Last week, dozens of Palestinian intellectuals and academics called for boycotting Blair, saying in a statement published in the Arabic daily, al Ayyam, that Blair was trying to whitewash Lebanese blood with Palestinian water.
Blair had repeatedly promised to get serious about ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank , East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, but to no avail.
Blairs close association with George Bushs war on terror, which many Muslims view as a war on their religion, has cost him his credibility among Arab and Muslim masses.
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