Division among Palestinians

The following letter to the editor by EI co-founder Ali Abunimah was published by The Irish Times on 19 June 2007:

As a Palestinian, I am appalled that the European Union and the United States have backed Mahmoud Abbas’s so-called “emergency government” in Israeli-occupied Ramallah. The Palestinian Basic Law makes no provision for such a development.

Hamas, no matter what one thinks of it, won the January 2006 election fair and square. On the eve of its victory, it had already observed a one-year unilateral truce with Israel. According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Israel killed almost 700 Palestinians in 2006, of whom half were unarmed civilians, and 141 were children. By contrast, Palestinians killed 23 Israelis.

On what basis, therefore, did the EU shun the elected representatives of an occupied people, while allowing their occupiers to continue their depredations — willful killing of civilians and land theft for Jewish-only settlements — without any response? Hamas tried to enter mainstream politics through the front door — explicitly modeling its policies on those of the IRA in the context of the Irish peace process. The door was slammed shut in its face as the US funded and armed unaccountable and corrupt militias whose job was to undermine the results of a democratic election, and the EU meekly agreed to impose cruel sanctions against an occupied people.

EU officials may comfort themselves that they are supporting a “legitimate” Palestinian government. As a student of European history, I see a close parallel with the collaborationist second World War regimes of Quisling in Norway and Pétain in France. Has Europe really learned nothing from its own history? Has Ireland learned nothing from its own painful past, as well as the spectacular success of the peace process in the North?

The result of these short-sighted EU policies will be to deepen the split among Palestinians and give Israel a free hand to continue its violent colonization of illegally occupied lands.

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