In February 2002, the late Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling wrote a scathing and urgent denunciation of his government. He did not spare the Palestinian leadership, who he accused of "short-sightedness so extreme that it has become a collaborator in Sharon’s plans. If there is a second Naqba [Palestinian Holocaust], this leadership, too, will be among the causes".
Since then, the Palestinian leadership has only gotten more corrupt, more incompetent, more venal, and more extreme in its crimes against the Palestinians. Antony Loewenstein recently wrote an article pondering whether Fayyad was leading a viable strategy to end the occupation. This is entirely the wrong question, because that’s not what he’s there for.
Loewenstein writes that Fayyad "recently announced that he will declare a Palestinian state in 2011 regardless of political progress with Israel". This is untrue. His source doesn’t say this, and turning to the LA Times, we learn that Fayyad is "careful to stress the idea of a de facto state rather than a unilateral declaration of statehood because of a 2002 US congressional resolution" expressing opposition to such a move. Israel has also threatened reprisals in the event of such a unilateral declaration.
Why does this matter? Because Fayyad’s proposal rests on the premise that the Palestinians can create a de facto state in the West Bank and Gaza. With hundreds of checkpoints and roadblocks, hundreds of thousands of settlers, the Israeli military and the apartheid wall, this is pure fantasy. However, Fayyad wins warm appreciation from the US and Israel for making the public pretence that the occupation doesn’t really matter: that the only obstacle to a Palestinian state is something internal to Palestinian politics.
If it is assumed that Fayyad is seeking to end the occupation, then Fayyad’s strategy is quite bizarre. There is, however, little evidence that this is the case. If we take a longer look at the "peace process", it is obvious that he is simply fulfilling the role allotted to the Palestinian Authority since the 1993 Oslo Declaration of Principles.
Recall what happened: Arafat renounced the Palestinian claim to 78 per cent of historic Palestine, renounced the use of violence, and said he would "assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators". In return, Rabin wrote a letter saying that he would now negotiate with the Palestinians. Not only were the Palestinians to surrender: as Norman Finkelstein and Shlomo Ben-Ami agreed, the PLO was to become Israel’s "subcontractor and collaborator", crushing Palestinian resistance to the occupation.
Obviously, the Palestinians wouldn’t benefit from this. However, the monumentally corrupt Fatah would. The Palestinian Authority would become a pseudo-government, with no real authority or power, but with privileges denied to ordinary Palestinians under occupation. With time, the puppet government arrangement became even more attractive to Israel.
Extremist apologists for China defend its occupation of Tibet as benevolent by pointing to economic development there. Apologists for the Israeli occupation no longer even bother: it’s not our responsibility how they live goes the new refrain. The problem is that damn Palestinian Government, squandering its opportunities. They could have turned Gaza into a "Dubai on the Mediterranean", says Thomas Friedman.
Loewenstein also noted Fayyad’s intense repression in the West Bank. This makes perfect sense: Israel and the US love him because he effectively supports the occupation, by pretending it doesn’t matter. When he stood for election, he won all of 2.4 per cent of the vote. He was later appointed by Mahmoud Abbas — similarly installed in power without any popular legitimacy.
So what do American puppets do when faced by a people that rejects them? They become dependent on their foreign supporters, and afraid of their own people. Newsweek says Fayyad oversaw the arrest of "some 8000 Palestinians in the West Bank; nearly 700 are still in prison". An earlier European Union delegation found that "88 per cent of all those in jail were being held without trial, a hearing or any sentencing".
It’s all predictable: Israel’s puppet depends on Israel and the US, while the opposition to Fayyad poses a threat to him and the occupation. Fayyad and his security apparatus arrests and tortures hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners, while he and Abbas ride around in the West Bank protected by the Israeli Shin Bet. Al Jazeera was closed down for alleging Abbas conspired to murder Arafat with Israel.
The role of Israel, the US, Jordan, Egypt and Muhammad Dahlan in attempting to overthrow the Hamas Government is well known by now. What also deserves to be known is that US Lieutenant General Keith Dayton openly boasted of training Fatah thugs, who were able to maintain control of the West Bank during the Gaza massacre. Israel didn’t need to send in its troops: it could trust Fatah to handle the task of repression for them. Meanwhile, Abbas had quietly supported the blockade on Gaza, and even took the incredible step of blaming Hamas for Israel’s attack on Gaza in December last year.
Is it any surprise Shimon Peres gives such glowing character references for Fayyad and Abbas ("We’ve never had better leaders to deal with")? It’s true that Abbas is a Holocaust denier, yet plainly this isn’t a problem. Even AIJAC has hailed the Palestinian Authority as "a moderate Arab government". It is left to leftists to note that Abbas dismissed the "The Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed". Not only this: Abbas thought the Jews brought the Holocaust (which apparently didn’t happen) on themselves.
Abbas and Fayyad aren’t favoured as "moderates" for their decency. They are corrupt puppets who do as they’re told, because their self-interest matches that of the Israeli Government. This is why Avigdor Lieberman can brag of his Government’s victory: that Abbas would turn up to a supposed peace summit, despite Israel refusing to freeze settlements. In June, I warned that Obama’s "declared opposition" to the settlements was standard US policy, and simply "empty declarations". Any sentient being should know the obvious by now: the US Government, much of the West, and corrupt Arab elites are collaborating in the occupation of Palestine. Arab collaboration is becoming increasingly brazen, with some dictatorships rewarding Israel with increased normalisation for not freezing settlement activities in the West Bank.
Negotiations between Abbas and Netanyahu are supposed to take place, according to Netanyahu and Obama, "without preconditions". Considering the boycott of the Government that the Palestinians actually elected, it is hard to exaggerate the shamelessness of their contempt for Palestinian rights, or the cravenness of Western media which doesn’t meet such rhetoric with scorn and ridicule.
Why does Israel refuse to negotiate with Hamas? It’s not because of its "anti-Jewish hate literature" from the 1980s, because that was when the US and Israel were covertly supporting it. If having committed terrorist atrocities ruled out a negotiating partner, this would rule out Israel and Fatah too.
No, the problem is that Hamas isn’t willing to join in the "peace process": becoming Israel’s enforcer of the occupation. It is this sort of "peace" which Israel demands, and it is this "rejectionism" that outrages the Israeli Government.