Sonja Karkar: West Hands Palestinians Poisoned Chalice

By Sonja Karkar
Special to

It seems few can speak the truth anymore and that does not augur well for Palestine or for the world generally.

Time and again, law and principles have been compromised for Israel’s benefit and the world has acquiesced; now it seems some Palestinians are prepared to do the same.  Shades of Oslo repeated, but this time, without any hope at all for a just end to the Palestine question. Those who thought it would be different, have forgotten Israel’s ruthless masterplan to take all of the land. With 93 percent of Palestine already annexed to Israel and 7 percent under its actual control, a final solution to rid Israel of 4 million Palestinians was always inevitable. 

Just how Israel was going to do that without resorting to outright genocide seemed to have its abominable solution in transfer and apartheid. Now it looks like the solution will be found by turning Palestinian against Palestinian with consequences too awful to contemplate. Never before has there been such a need to expose the hypocrisy, lies and obfuscations that may well mean the end of a united liberation struggle.

After years of claiming it had no partner for peace, it is interesting to learn that Israel will cooperate with President Abbas and the “new government”. More likely, the Palestinians are being handed a poisoned chalice. Democracy is being offered like some magic elixir, when all the while, the democratic process has been systematically undermined at every turn over the last 18 months. 

The result has seen Palestinians bitterly divided and the national framework for liberation fractured. What is happening now is more of the same. The Israeli/US-backed “emergency government” in the West Bank is contrary to Palestinian Basic Law and requires approval from a quorum of the Legislative Council in which Hamas holds the majority of seats.  Those who would describe President Abbas’ actions as necessary to put down the Hamas “coup” in Gaza are making nonsensical claims. The Hamas government has always been legitimate since it won democratic elections in January 2006 and cannot instigate a coup against itself.  That has been conveniently overlooked by the US, Israel, and shamefully by some members of the Palestinian Fatah party, all of whom have done everything to bring the legitimate government down.

The developments to date suggest that is the case. First, there were the 18-month-long draconian sanctions imposed by Western governments on the whole Palestinian population with Israel refusing to transfer tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.  As a result, some 150,000 government workers went unpaid for months and many are still waiting.

Then Israel began its punishing attacks on Gaza, further torturing a people already sunk in poverty. And, in an outrageous move, Israel arrested 64 Palestinian government officials including 8 cabinet ministers and around 20 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.  Most of them are still in Israeli prisons a year later. But that has not been the worst of it. Shameless members of Fatah’s security forces under Mohammed Dahlan, Washington’s favorite strongman in Gaza, accepted arms and training from the US to use against their own people – the prelude to civil war.  And the enemy Israel allowed the transfer of guns into Gaza from Egypt and gave permission for Fatah security forces to receive military training in Jordan. Thus began the dirty war on the streets of Gaza which Hamas won much to the ire of everyone who had pushed for a different outcome.  Back in government in Gaza at least, Hamas has restored calm and has called for the resumption of the national unity government and has offered to work with Abbas, which has little chance of happening as Abbas moves closer to cooperation with the US.

In the West Bank, President Abbas’ “emergency government” defiantly holds, although it has not received full international status, despite the US doing the usual lobbying at the United Nations. Russia, Indonesia, South Africa and Qatar have questioned the legitimacy of the “emergency government” and blocked a US initiative for a Security Council declaration of support for Abbas before it even reached the draft stage. And although the sanctions have been lifted and money will begin flowing to the West Bank “government”, there is nothing going to Gaza except essential food aid to be distributed by UNRWA. 

What we are seeing now is a deviant kind of ethnic cleansing – one that sets up well-fed Palestinians in the West Bank in the hope that they will abandon their own starving in Gaza. But the Palestinians benefiting from this new largesse may have cause to regret their haste to accept the “legitimacy” of this government because it will only go on as long as it is convenient for the main players – Israel and the US.  The endgame is as it always was – Israel to take all of the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

As the internal divisions and chaos amongst the Palestinians intensify, Israel’s relentless land theft, settlement expansion and human rights abuses continue uninterrupted. No one is asking what will happen to the 4 million Palestinians left teetering on the edge of the abyss. The US administration which helped create this mess, just keeps making empty promises. It is no wonder that former US president Jimmy Carter describes Washington’s antics as “criminal”, and that about sums it all up.

-A contributor to, Sonja Karkar is the founder and President of Women for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia. See

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