Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Divide et impera

The Jordan Times

The division between the Islamic movement, Hamas, and Fateh, the mainstream Palestinian grouping, is getting deeper and more worrying by the day.

The division between the two was aggravated by Hamas leader Khaled Mishaal’s decision to break away from the Fateh-controlled Palestine Liberation Organisation and establish a new national grouping. This led Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to declare that he will not continue a reconciliation dialogue with any Palestinian faction that rejects the PLO as the only lawful, internationally recognised representative of the Palestinian people.. Mishaal has not made his connection with Iran a secret; he visited Tehran for talks with Iranian officials and appears to be pinning more hope and trust on the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than on any other Arab country or leader.

This split in the Palestinian ranks overshadows all other divisions and disagreements in the region, including those related to the terms for a durable truce between Israel and Hamas.

Unfortunately, as long as the Palestinians are at odds over how to achieve independence and statehood, no amount of effort, from within or outside the area, can be expected to bear fruit, including any advocated by US President Barack Obama.

Internecine divisions have plagued the Palestinians from the day the British mandate over Palestine expired, in 1948. They continue due to the interference of non-Palestinian actors. As long as some of the self-declared Palestinian representatives continue to serve the agenda of foreign parties, the discord will continue to frustrate the attainment of the Palestinian national goals.

Arab countries can do much to reverse such trend. There are some Arab governments that have openly sided with one Palestinian movement or the other. Arab summits and other conferences under the umbrella of the Arab League have failed to achieve a durable Palestinian unity. This is due, in part, to the lack of candour of Arab efforts.

If Arab leaders say in public what they think and reveal in private, the attainment of Palestinian unity can be closer at hand. Patronising one faction or another is at the expense of the Palestinian national rights.

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