Political Roulette in Palestine

By Dr. Eyad El Sarraj – Gaza

– She asked: Where have you been all day? I was worried about you! And why did you turn off your mobile?

– Then he replied meekly:"It was an exhausting day, long strategy meetings and discussions of administration and finance. I have a meeting tonight with "the Elders".

– "What elders?"

– "They are the group of Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and other international figures who are to tell the truth on the world’s troubles"

– "And what is the benefit of meeting them?"

– "It is very important to tell them our story" then almost begging "Now, I want to rest for a while so that I can go to the meeting."

–  At night, he came back from the meeting looking exhausted and he asked her for a cup of tea. When she brought him the cup of tea, he was already dosing off. She felt sorry for him and left after covering him with a blanket.

– In the morning over coffee, she said "you slept long and deep" and with a laugh "snoring".

– He said: "I was really stressed out".

– She asked, "What about the "Elders?".

– He said: "The meeting was attended by Mary Robinson, ex-President of Republic of Ireland, Ms. Tella from India who carried out projects to help more than one million women. The meeting started with a difficult question posed by Lakhdar Al Ibrahimi- Former Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arab League Secretary and the UN envoy to Afghanistan: "Why do the leaders of Fatah and Hamas insist on division and internal war? Don’t they realize what they are doing to their people and to their cause? Somebody tell me please!"

– Heavy silence! We were trying to find an answer to this painful difficult question that kept us sleepless and heartbroken along the years of division. The attendants gave varied answers to the reasons of division and its continuation. 

– I tried to contribute saying, "The political interpretations and the ideological differences are known, but I think that the conflict between Fatah and Hamas has intensified and deepened as it took the tribal and personal dimension, so the conflict is fraught with tribal fanaticism and strong desire of revenge and retaliation. This is clear as when the government in Ramallah detains members of Hamas, the Gaza government detains members of Fatah in response. And when the government in Ramallah closes a Charitable Association of Hamas, the government in Gaza closes a Charitable Association of Fatah. Even, at the family level, relations between brothers and between cousins are troubled".

– Al Ibrahimi was listening painfully. I went on saying: "The Israelis did not dare to get into a hospital to kill an injured person, but we did. Israelis did not dare to throw a Palestinian from the fifteenth floor but we did. The Israelis have never broken into mosques with their weapons, but we did…The tribal fanatic tension has reached such grave a level of internal conflict until we all felt sorry about ourselves, We gave our enemy the excuse for killing, destruction and abuse of sanctities. Al Ibrahimi said:"It is revenge and it is the tribe."

– Then he asked again: "How will your future be like?"

– There was a consensus that the future is dark and gloomy because Hamas and Fatah will not reconcile and consequently the division will deepen. Then It will be easier for Israel to push the people of Gaza into Egypt, and Israel will continue building settlements in the West Bank and judaizing Jerusalem in defiance of the whole world. Israel considers only its power and the power of the US. Israel does not care anyone else, even Europe can’t get permission for its Ministers of Foreign Affairs to visit Gaza!!

– She said: "It was a sad painful meeting ".

– He explained: I tried to inject some hope by saying that it appears that the American administration has given the green light to the Palestinian reconciliation as I think that Obama realizes that without Hamas, there will be no peace process or a Palestinian State. At the same time, Obama made big promises to Israel in for its government accept the establishment of a Palestinian State." 

– "The meeting of Omar Suleiman with Khalid Meshal in Mecca a few weeks ago was not a coincidence as well as  the quick dispatch of Azzam Al-Ahmad Damascus and now we hear the news that an agreement is imminent. As well the visits of the European Ministers of Foreign Affairs to the region so as to pressure Israel to accept Obama’s generous offers. These are all signs in addition to reviving the issue of Shalit and the prisoners especially Marwan Barghouti whom everybody needs in case of reaching a peace agreement, so there is something going on under the surface." 

– She asks: "And what is Obama’s motive behind all of this?"

– He answered: "Obama promised to start a relationship with the Islamic world. He knows that the Palestinian is in the deep core of this relationship, and there has to be a Palestinian state before he can convince the Muslims that America is serious and honest."

– She said: "But he failed to convince Netanyahu to halt the settlement activity!"

– He answered quietly: "Let’s wait for a while…The Israeli government is confused and is incredibly pressured from all directions. I think the decision is really imminent to be made whether by Israel or others."

– She asked: "What will the Palestinian win?"

– He said:" First of all, the national reconciliation, Secondly, a Palestinian state on 1967 borders and Arab Jerusalem."

– She exclaimed: "Is it possible that all this will happen? Will the dream of Salam’s Fayyad of establishing the State at the end of 2011 come true?"

– He answered: "Salam Fayyad and Mahmoud Abbas are in a high risk game, if the goal of establishing a state is accomplished, victory will be achieved and if it didn’t, all would be losers. They are like the one who places all his money on one number in the Roulette and if the ball drops on that number, then he is one of the rich."

– She said: "Why did Fayyad and Abbas do this? Isn’t it dangerous to put all eggs in one basket?"

– He said: "Abu Mazen and Fayyad have understood the Israeli game in which Israel waged wars on the pretext of defending security while in fact, it always wants to take more land. They also realized that Palestinians have always been the victims of this game, as they can’t be submissive to the occupation that they must resist, albeit the armed resistance was always employed by Israeli to steal land."

– He continued:" Abu Mazen’s persistence not to be drawn into the armed resistance and even accepting the security coordination with Israel, as well as Fayyad’s adherence to the steadfastness through institutional building reflect their awareness of the Israeli game. And this was not easy, indeed very costly as they have to endure the Israeli provocation as well as Palestinian patronizing and accusations of selling out”. 

– This is why I say it is like a bet of all their capital on one number in the political Roulette, but it is a calculated bet that as at aims at depriving Israel from its continuous procrastination and evasion of peace, ending the occupation and establishment of a Palestinian state."  

– She asked: "What if Obama fails?"

– He answered with confidence: "The greatest danger is that Israel pre empts with a war using the Palestinian fire as a justification as usual to stop attempts for the Palestinian reconciliation and the establishment of the Palestinian state. But Fayyad and Abbas will go to the Security Council and the United Nations. This time, resistance will have been in a new phase by transforming into an international movement against Israel apartheid system and occupation. The world will gradually take a stand against oppression and the truth will prevail…on the path to establish the ONE state."

 – Eyad El-Sarraj, a psychiatrist, is the founder and president of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. This article was contributed to PalestineChronicle.com.

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