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Destroying Hamas


Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram, Issue No. 847
31 May 2007

The Elliot Abrams plan -

There have been consistent reports describing a tripartite plan by Israel, the US and unidentified regional Arab governments to destroy or at least weaken Hamas for the purpose of facilitating the dismantling of the current Palestinian Authority.

According to the plan, Israel would arrest the vast bulk of the Hamas leadership in the West Bank in order to leave the Hamas rank and file leaderless and off-balance. And in the Gaza Strip, the US would pour money and weapons unto the Dahlan Camp for the purpose of strengthening it against Hamas.

With a weaker and leaderless Hamas, Abbas would dissolve the Palestinian national unity government and call for early general elections. These would be widely manipulated by American-Israeli intervention, including a pledge by them to lift the crippling embargo against the Palestinians and pay the outstanding salaries of civil servants.

A sizeable majority of Palestinians would vote for a "moderate" Fatah leadership, which would eventually accept a "reasonable peace settlement" with Israel whereby the Palestinians would give up the right of return, the bulk of East Jerusalem and allow Israel to maintain most, if not all, of the West Bank settlements.

Israel carried out a large number of arrests of Hamas's leaders during the last week in an attempt to paralyse the political apparatus of the organisation. This has brought the number of Palestinian activists imprisoned to date to more than 11,000, including more than 5,000 Hamas leaders and activists.

Last week alone more than 30 Palestinian politicians, mostly those with Islamic leanings, were detained by the Israeli army. The detainees included professor Nassereddin Al-Shaaer, minister of education and former deputy-prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. Al-Shaaer is a moderate who supports the two-state solution and has never been accused of involvement in resistance activities.

Al-Shaaer was also arrested by the Israeli army last year apparently in an effort to pressure Hamas to release an Israeli soldier taken prisoner by Palestinian resistance groups in the Gaza Strip 11 months ago.

The Palestinian academic-turned-politician was neither charged nor prosecuted for any alleged misdemeanour and his arrest was seen as a new method of intimidation by the Israeli authorities.

Another prominent person detained was Sheikh Hamed Al-Beitawi, an elderly legislator and former judge. Al-Beitawi is a diabetic who had part of his foot amputated several weeks ago.

No charges were brought against the 73-year-old lawmaker, who was also one of hundreds of Hamas members who were deported to South Lebanon in 1991 by then Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The mass arrests also included the Mayor of Nablus Adli Yaaesh, the Mayor of Qaliqilya Wajih Qawwas, former cabinet minister Abdul-Rahman Zeidan as well as a number of other lawmakers.

Last Sunday the Israeli army arrested another cabinet minister, Wasfi Kabaha, and a number of other pro-Hamas lawmakers and activists.

These new arrests came on top of the more than 40 other Hamas legislators, including Speaker of the Palestinian Parliament Aziz Deweik, who were abducted by the Israeli army from their homes and offices, for taking part in the elections and for serving in a government that doesn't recognise Israel.

However, Israel itself, along with the United States, approved the participation of Hamas in the elections. However, following Hamas's surprise victory, Israel had a change of heart and began a policy of hounding and arresting the lawmakers.

This brazen campaign of intimidation of Hamas legislators, accompanied by little if any opposition from the West, has been complemented by a harsh political and economic embargo against the Palestinian government. This has included Israel withholding Palestinian taxes and brought their economy to the brink of collapse.

In addition to the arrests, the Israeli military has been engaging in raids, involving wanton destruction of property, against Islamic-run schools, charities as well as cultural and educational institutions all over the West Bank.

In the Hebron region, Israeli soldiers, equipped with sledge hammers raided the Al-Anwar cultural centre in Dura, smashing windows, confiscating more than 20 PCs as well as printers, telephones and TV sets. Officials at the centre estimated losses at tens of thousands of dollars.



Palestinians run for cover as a missile fired
by the Israeli military is seen nearly hitting
its target during an air strike on Hamas's
Executive Force building in the Nusseirat
refugee camp, Gaza.

And in Hebron itself, Israeli soldiers stormed the Qawasmi primary school in the middle of the night, seizing computers from classrooms and vandalising school property. The same acts of vandalism were repeated at the offices of the Change and Reform List and a number of other cultural, sport and educational centres associated with Islamic charities.

To forestall possible but unlikely criticism by the West, Israel reportedly informed the US and regional Arab states that the sweeping arrests were only targeting Hamas officials and were intended to weaken the movement and strengthen Fatah, especially the office of Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president.

This is of course a half truth at best since the Israeli army has also been killing and arresting Fatah activists in the West Bank. Last Monday Israeli troops stormed the small town of Jericho and shot and seriously wounded a Fatah activist. As the activist was rushed to hospital in a serious condition, Israeli soldiers stormed the hospital and snatched the critically injured man from the operating theatre.

In Ramallah, undercover Israeli troops abducted Khaled Al-Shawish, a wheelchair-bound Fatah leader, alleging that he was an active participant in resisting the occupation during the first years of the Intifada.

This appears to lend credence to the theory that Israel in fact, contrary to its claims, is targeting Fatah with equal vigour and is only interested in negotiating with Palestinians who are pliable quislings and yes men.

Meanwhile, there have been consistent reports describing a tripartite plan by Israel, the US and unidentified regional Arab governments to destroy or at least weaken Hamas for the purpose of facilitating the dismantling of the current Palestinian Authority.

These new arrests came on top of the more than 40 other Hamas legislators, including Speaker of the Palestinian Parliament Aziz Deweik, who were abducted by the Israeli army from their homes and offices, for taking part in the elections and for serving in a government that doesn't recognise Israel.

According to the plan, Israel would arrest the vast bulk of the Hamas leadership in the West Bank in order to leave the Hamas rank and file leaderless and off-balance. And in the Gaza Strip, the US would pour money and weapons unto the Dahlan Camp for the purpose of strengthening it against Hamas.

With a weaker and leaderless Hamas, Abbas, the plan envisages, would dissolve the Palestinian national unity government and call for early general elections. These would be widely manipulated by American-Israeli intervention, including a pledge by them to lift the crippling embargo against the Palestinians and pay the outstanding salaries of civil servants.

Elliot Abrams, the apparent mastermind behind the plan, hopes that a sizeable majority of Palestinians would vote for a "moderate" Fatah leadership, which would eventually accept a "reasonable peace settlement" with Israel whereby the Palestinians would give up the right of return, the bulk of East Jerusalem and allow Israel to maintain most, if not all, of the West Bank settlements including Mael Adumim, Ariel, and Pisgat Zeev.

Moreover, the contemplated final settlement would also include a "Palestinian-Israeli agreement" which would allow the Jewish state to maintain an undisclosed number of military bases and early warning stations on major hilltops in the West Bank as well as in the Jordan valley, for at least 30 years.

The agreement would also allow Israel to "rent" certain settlements, such as Kiryat Arbaa near Hebron, for 99 years. However, the Palestinian Authority, denies that anything like this is being discussed.

In Hebron Israeli soldiers stormed the Qawasmi primary school in the middle of the night, seizing computers from classrooms and vandalising school property.

However, it is abundantly clear that the Bush administration, ostensibly in connivance with the Israeli government, is acting in a way suggesting that a Palestinian agreement, or at least "understanding" has already been reached with the likes of Mohamed Dahlan. Rumour has it that Dahlan is being groomed as a successor to Abbas, a leader the Americans increasingly regard as weak, indecisive and reluctant to confront Hamas.

There is no doubt that such a deal, or a "sell-out" as numerous Palestinians would view it, would be resisted vehemently by the majority of Palestinians including the so-called Arafatists, Hamas and the leftist organisations.

However, the American-Israeli alliance, possibly in concert with regional Arab governments, might seek to devise ways and means to bolster the "peace camp" among Palestinians by way of arguing that the opposition ought to "give peace a chance", respect the "democratic game" and allow the "democratically-elected government" to negotiate a final peace agreement with Israel.

Nevertheless, it is unlikely that such a conspiracy would succeed, due to massive opposition, even if augmented by American money and Israeli carrots, such as allowing Palestinians to obtain food and work relatively easily and unfreezing Palestinian tax revenues.

In 1978, Israel attempted a similar feat when it tried to destroy the PLO leadership by establishing the so-called "Village League" as a replacement. It failed miserably and Israel was forced to abandon the plan.

Source: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2007/847/re61.htm


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The opinions expressed on this site, unless otherwise stated, are those of the authors.
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