As I write this, negotiators from Israel and Hamas are in Cairo wrestling with yet another set of issues resulting from the colonialist view that treating weaker peoples however you like is OK―as long as you can get away with it. However, today Hamas in Gaza is out in force marching in support of their negotiators and their demands, while Netanyahu lines up US support to avoid being hauled before the ICC on war crimes charges. In the meantime, the negative fallout from Israel’s latest war on Palestinians continues to spread. Predictably, Operation Protective Edge looks to possibly be an even bigger political disaster for Israel than Cast Lead, though Israel may not care.
In Israel and abroad, the less militant among zionists are being arrested. They’re being fired. They’re being beaten. Whatever agreement can be made in Cairo, if any, is bound to ripple through Israel’s body politic, and because I don’t have much faith in Israel’s left, I expect that in the short term, the rabid right wing in Israel to emerge more unified and even stronger. Of course, the consequences of this will be more settlements, more incidental and official violence against Palestinians ― generally making matters worse. I’m not making any predictions one way or the other here. This is my gut talking and I fully realize that miracles can happen; but I have to keep asking myself: has Israel have any options left or has their penchant for massive violence closed off any possible alternatives? It would appear that Israel’s support in the world may hinge on whether Israel can find one, and soon.
The other party at a crossroads at this moment is, of course, the unity government of Palestine who gains where Israel loses. I expect Hamas’ rule in Gaza is safe for the foreseeable future, and today’s demonstration seems to indicate that they remain committed to the resistance. What remains to be seen is the extent Operation Protective Edge hardens Palestinian resolve. In this regard, I feel it is significant that Abbas continues to weaken. Apart from Hamas’ growing skill in the public sphere; (aided by modern media, Hamas can, after all, exploit the huge difference between tossing unguided rockets over the border which almost always hit open areas harmlessly versus the deadly effectiveness of Israel’s deliberate targeting of fleeing Palestinian civilians2). Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is to some extent hostage to events in Gaza. Failure to stand strong while Gaza fence shootings occur could either shatter the unity government or force it more toward the hard line. They’re also, therefore, hostage to Israel, who retains the capacity to provoke a response from Gaza, and shows every indication they are perfectly willing to continue to do so.
I don’t know if Palestinian leadership in the West Bank is ready for that.
Aside: For those keeping score, and speaking of fence shootings, Israel has already breached the current ceasefire agreement. Ma’an reports that yesterday, Israeli forces open[ed] fire at Gazans in Shujaiyya park. The West needs to begin paying attention.
Such provocations will have one of two possible outcomes: the unity government will fail if Abbas and Fatah refuse to deal forthrightly in protecting the lives and interests of the inmates of Gaza, or Hamas/Palestinian Authority will step up and take a harder line with Tel Aviv and the United States1.
My take: Abbas is no Arafat, who would have taken the long route through the fires of hell if that’s what it took to be to where the action was in Gaza. Abbas doesn’t have that kind of grit. Nor does he have Arafat’s international presence either. While Hamas was operating under bombardment, Abbas was busy touring the world’s capitals trying ineffectually to broker a ceasefire. Widely felt to be an appeaser, Abbas’ stewardship of the West Bank has been widely regarded to be an utter disaster for the Palestinians living under his rule. That being said, if history of such movements tells us anything, both armed and diplomatic wings must be simultaneously employed, but I have no confidence that Abbas is the figure to carry on the latter effort. That’s the crossroad the unity government now stands on, and it is beyond me to guess which way this frog will jump.
The short and medium term fates of both sides may hinge on what comes out of Cairo.
1The United States is certainly not at any kind of crossroads. We have no option which alleviates our association with Israel, and the American made arms responsible for the wanton destruction of lives in Gaza.
2Israel has a history of deliberate massacre of civilians who are in the act of surrender. These “white flag incidents” occurred in Safsaf, Eliaboun and Sahila according to an Israeli source. How many more such atrocities occurred is presently undetermined.
Update: The ceasefire is over, and Israel’s supporters reflexively spread the lie that it’s all Hamas’ fault:
— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) August 8, 2014
Well, I already covered that. I knew it would need to be watched carefully, the Israeli hasbara machine is so predictable.