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Starving Palestinians into Submission

By Dr. Elias Akleh

05/11/06 "
ICH" -- -- The American alleged noble goal of spreading freedom and democracy in the Arab World has been scandalously exposed when the American administration, who encouraged Palestinian election (declared by international observers to be free, honest and fair), has rejected the people’s choice, and is attempting to starve the whole nation as a punishment for exercising their democratic right. The Bush administration is putting pressure on the international community to stop all financial aid to the Palestinians, to impose a type of a quasi economical embargo, and to politically isolate them in an attempt to overthrow the newly elected Palestinian Authority (PA).

Through democratic election Palestinians had chosen Hamas resistance movement to form a government to represent them. Israel and Bush administration were hoping that Fatah, with its complicit leaders, would win election and stay in power. The Bush administration is carrying a political blackmail campaign to subdue Hamas PA. It is demanding Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist, to renounce what they call “terrorism”, and to honor previous Israeli/Fatah PA agreements (demands that Hamas totally rejects) or face financial isolation.

The American House of Representatives is studying what is called “Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act HR4681” that would punish and isolate Palestinians by imposing draconian economic and diplomatic measures. The Act would increase Palestinian suffering by halting all US humanitarian assistance to them. It would severely restrict the work of Palestinian diplomats by denying them visas, restrict their movement at the UN, and shut down the PLO information office in Washington. It would designate Palestinian territory as a “terrorist sanctuary” and thus trigger restrictions on American trade with the territory that would further cripple Palestinian economy. The Act would also target UN organizations that support Palestinian human rights by withholding the American dues to the UN in proportion to the percentage of the UN budget that funds these organizations. It would deny Palestinian ability to receive assistance from international financial institutions such as the World Bank, who has been working with the PA to “rebuild” Gaza Strip after the Israeli unilateral withdrawal; the US would vote against such funds in the World Bank.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had toured Europe and the Arab World pressuring leaders to exert political pressure on, and to financially and economically boycott the Hamas-led PA unless it adheres to the American demands. Since it is politically easier for the international community to exert pressure on the weaker party (the Palestinians) rather than facing the world’s strongest political bully those coward hypocritical leaders joined in pressuring the PA. Some like Canada have suspended aid to the PA, while others parroted the same American demands. The Arab leaders, on the other hand, called on the Hamas PA to adopt the Arab peace initiative (the Saudi initiative) that had been adopted by the Arab League in Beirut summit in 2002 and renewed during the late Khartoum summit.

With the full understanding that unpaid Palestinian Security Forces, the closure of humanitarian organizations, the closure of schools, and the collapse of Palestinian economy would create a very desperate nation, who would express its frustration through extreme violence since the people have nothing else to lose and nothing to fear for, EU leaders have been looking for ways to maneuver around the American pressure and to transfer their financial aid to Palestinians directly bypassing the PA. The EU sends about 500 million euros a year to the PA making it the largest donor. To pay PA’s employees directly EU leaders proposed the creation of a World Bank fund, or using the Holst Fund, which was set up in 1994 after the signing of Oslo Accord and is managed by the World Bank. Although Hamas declared that it would consider these ideas, and President Abbas welcomed them, the Bush administration has blocked all these proposals. The administration, also, had come down hard on all Islamic American charities (such as KindHearts) blocking the transfer of their charity money to the Palestinians citing alleged links to Hamas, which the US considers a “terrorist” organization.

Fearing the anger of their own people Arab leaders renewed their commitment to fund Palestinians through contributions to Arab League, and others promised direct donations. All donated monies were converted from the American dollars to the euros in an attempt to avoid passing through Washington. The Jordanian Bank offered to transfer the money. Yet when the Jordanian government (probably under American pressure and directive) accused Hamas of stockpiling weapons in Jordan to hit Jordanian targets the bank withdrew its offer.

Israeli terror against Palestinians has intensified. Israel has halted the transfer of about $55 million a month in taxes it collects for the PA in an attempt to bankrupt its government. Its army had closed “El-Montar” trade crossing (Carney Crossing); the only passage Gaza has to the rest of the world. More army checkpoints were erected within cities, and people were not allowed to move between neighborhoods. Israeli offensive army had intensified its terrorist attacks against Palestinian cities; raiding homes, completely destroying their contents or demolishing the whole house, randomly arresting people, raiding mosques and churches stripping worshippers naked and harassing religious figures, and beating or shooting reporters and confiscating their cameras. The Israeli tanks continuously shell civilian communities in Gaza Strip killing children and women, while military drones continue their targeted assassinations of alleged militant leaders by bombing their vehicles. The Israeli government is grabbing more land to expand its colonies and is finishing its jailing wall on Palestinian land to besiege more Palestinian cities and to destroy their economy. The wall and military checkpoints had divided the West Bank into small 64 cantons. Palestinian prisoners including children (boys and girls in their teens) in Israeli prisons are routinely tortured and denied heath care. Many women prisoners gave birth to their babies in prison cells. Israel is still carrying its policies of graduated annihilation of the Palestinian people in its campaign to “preserve proven Jewish majority in the State of Israel” as Israeli president Olmert has put it this week. This Zionist racist ideology was clearly expressed by 62% of Israelis, who demand evacuating Palestinians to Jordan, according to the latest annual survey by the Israel Democracy Institute.

Within every nation there are traitors, who, for their own selfish interests, cooperate with the enemy against their own people. Palestinians are not the exception. A handful of corrupt Fatah leaders, who had hijacked the party, had been using their political positions to enrich and to empower themselves. They have secured effective control over large segments of Palestinian Security Forces. After loosing election to Hamas, those leaders refused to cede power, and are planning to impede Hamas government in order to replace it with a substitute government of their own. They are also afraid to be indicted for embezzling public money. Some of these corrupt leaders, like Jibril Rajoub, met with the American CIA and the Israeli Mossad at James Baker Center for Foreign Policies in Texas to put plans to overthrow the newly elected Palestinian government. In an attempt to completely bankrupt the Palestinian government those corrupt Fatah leaders had employed thirty thousand new government employees in the last two months, and then pushed them into the streets demanding their salaries. They have sent their militia forces to terrorize the people, to occupy government buildings, and to engage Hamas members into confrontations like what happened recently (Monday 5/8) in Gaza.

Hamas refuses to recognize and thus legitimize the right of the Israeli State to exist on occupied Palestinian land. Its leaders point to the on-going Israeli occupation of Palestine (since 1948) as the real threat to a peaceful Middle East, and that their struggle against such an occupation is their legitimate right that is acknowledged by all international laws. Israel, not Hamas, is the terrorist state spreading chaos and destruction throughout the Arab World. America’s continuous unconditional economical, political, and military support to this terror state exposes the reality of the alleged American war on global terror used to invade other countries.

Hamas refuses to honor the previously signed Israeli/Fatah PA agreements for Israel had put many reservations against these agreements to nullify them, and has never honored any of them. So why should Hamas honor any of these agreements since they do not benefit Palestinians. Arafat and his PA had recognized Israel, renounced resistance and adopted peaceful negotiations, and had accepted the two states solution giving legitimacy to the Israeli occupation of 78% of Palestine. Israel rejected this peaceful approach and kept on insisting that there is no Palestinian partner for peace despite all the Palestinian efforts to negotiate.

As for the Arab Peace Initiative, Hamas explains that all Arab peace offers, that would have legitimized Israel and would have guaranteed its security, have been rebuffed by Israel. The latest Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 was met by Ariel Sharon with more military operations and destruction of the major Palestinian cities. Israel and the Bush administration are not interested in any peaceful solution. Perpetual wars, that feed the military industries, are their only goal.

This financial/economical siege could turn out to be the best thing that may happen to the Palestinians to force them to depend solely on themselves to develop their own natural resources and to turn back to the ready-to-help Arab and Muslim nations to free themselves from the Western financial yoke. Through their “noble” money donations the “alleged” Western donor countries invest their “conditioned” donations in the region to manipulate and to control its economy. Large portions of the donations go as bribes to the corrupt leaders and as payoffs to their “security militias” to enforce economical dependence. Hamas has taken the first step to free Palestinian economy; its leaders reverted to the Muslim and Arab nations for financial support.

Through rallies in major Palestinian cities, last Friday, Palestinians had expressed their support to their elected Hamas leaders. Many of them, though poor, had donated money to help the government. Women donated their jewelry, children donated whatever meager money they saved in their piggybanks, business men donated thousands of dollars, and many government employees expressed their refusal to use unpaid wages to pressure the government. Ismail Haniya, Hamas newly elected Palestinian Prime Minister, has donated part of his monthly salary to families, whose children were martyred or imprisoned, for the rest of his term. A nation with such spirit will never be defeated.

The Israeli/American financial siege is collapsing. EU is looking into alternate methods to send its donations, Russia and other Asian countries expressed willingness to help financially, many Arab leaders pledged money besides regular contributions through Arab League, Arab and Muslim populations all over the world are organizing donation campaigns to help the Palestinians, and demonstrations against the Palestinian starvation policies are being organized in major capitals of the world.

This crisis is Hamas’ best opportunity to prove its resolve, its genuine loyalty to the people, its honest financial transparency, and its better management than the previous Fatah government.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Information ClearingHouse endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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