The Israel-US-EU Strategy Toward Hamas
The Aim of the Quartet and Israel is to bring about the Collapse of the PA
June 25, 2006
by Terry Walz, CNI Staff
The success of Israel, the Untied States and the European Community in bringing about the collapse of the Palestinian Authority – now led by Hamas – depends on the fortitude of the Palestinian people to stand up to the world in the face of severe shortages and internal disruption. This view emerged from a public hearing sponsored by the Council for the National Interest on "The Politics of Starvation: The Humanitarian Crisis in Palestine" held on Capitol Hill on June 23.
Tim Rothermel, former UNDP chief for the Occupied Palestinian Territories and a resident of the West Bank for almost ten years, deplored the potential impact of the financial sanctions placed on the PA. He warned that the recently agreed upon "mechanism" by which Quartet members – the EU, the UN, Russia, and the US – would be able to provide some financial assistance to the PA would in fact have a "limited effect" and would have "no real effect to bring about peace." He said that in his years of living in the area, he was amazed at the spirited response to development that the Palestinians had made, despite many obstacles, chief among them the Israeli occupation.
Speaking as someone who has experienced the impact of the financial sanctions on the ground in Gaza, Laila el-Haddad, a journalist working with al-Jazeera.net and western newspapers, including the Guardian, told the packed Senate room in the Capitol where the hearing was held, that there was a "lot to gain or lose by all the major players –including the US – in this new crisis." The attempt could provoke the Palestinians into a third Intifada, which would be in no one's interest.
She pointed out that despite the fact that the Israelis had evacuated the settlements last August, and Gazans initially believed they were free, it has become clear that the occupation controls are still in place on the borders, in the air, and on the sea. Access to the outside through Rafah, has been sporadic at best; the borders between Gaza and Israel remain closed; little produce produced in Gaza is allowed outside, and little food is coming in. Gaza fisherman are permitted only to fish six miles into the Mediterranean, although the Oslo Accords established their fishing rights 20 miles offshore.
Rafi Dajani, executive director of the American Task Force on Palestine and moderator of the hearing, suggested that the Quartet had a phased plan for the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. The first would be a humanitarian crisis, which is now embraced. The second would be the breakdown of security systems, followed by a collapse of the governing structure. He quoted an Israeli Army chief of staff saying that isolating Hamas was not the way to resolve the problem. It would mostly like end with ordinary citizens turning more and more to extreme answers, not to democratic solutions, and thus the politics of starvation, which the House of Representatives and now the Senate have approved, will lead to greater, not less, Middle East insecurity.
This was the 18th in a series of public hearings that CNI has organized on Capitol Hill. The next one will be on July 11 and will focus on the fate of Bethlehem, now surrounded by a Separation Wall.
For the full gext of Tim Rothermel's remarks, see http://www.cnionline.org/hearings/polti ... hermel.htm