Despite opposition from both the U.S. and Israel, the Gaza-based Palestinian organization Hamas and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, controlled by the Fatah organization, are continuing in their efforts to set up a unity government. Both Fatah and Hamas have handed over ministries to the new government, which will tackle the day-to-day issues both in Gaza and the West Bank. Decisions about diplomacy and security will be made “elsewhere.”
This move comes as a rejection of efforts by the Obama administration to force the Palestinians to accept a “peace agreement” that would have required them to accept Israel as a Jewish state — in other words, non-Jews in Israel would be second-class citizens. This upping the ante by the U.S. seemed designed to torpedo any real agreement while blaming the Palestinians.
Announcing the turn toward cooperation with Hamas, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said, “Today, and after announcing the government of national unity, we declare the end of division that caused catastrophic harm to our cause.” (Reuters, June 2) Both Hamas and Fatah will maintain their own organizations and principles, but will act together in this new Palestinian government. Importantly, Hamas will retain its militia.
The U.S.-backed Israeli government immediately denounced the new Palestinian unity government. Just days before, Israeli jets had bombed targets in Gaza. And Israel blocked the travel of two new Palestinian government ministers to the West Bank ceremony.
Israel called for the new Palestinian government to disarm the militias in Gaza. Of course, it did not offer any reduction of its own military might. Israel is armed to the teeth, thanks to military weapons sold and given to them by U.S. imperialism, amounting to more than $3 billion each year.
In return, the Israeli military has given U.S. occupation troops in Iraq and Afghanistan training in house-to-house fighting. It boasts that it first developed the notorious drones used by the U.S. military all over the Middle East and beyond.
Israel says it will build more Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory because of this new unity government. Of course, Israel has never stopped its ruthless campaign to dispossess Palestinians of their land since its founding nearly 70 years ago, when the Zionist state expelled 700,000 indigenous people from their homes. The Israeli state has saddled today’s 1.7 million Palestinians with a cruel and barbaric occupation, replete with countless checkpoints, garrison settlements and a 440-mile wall around the divided Palestinian territories.
Despite all the attempts by Israel and U.S. imperialism to deny the Palestinian people their own nation, the Palestinian organizations have waged a determined struggle for decades to achieve that goal. In doing so, they have won the support of progressive people, particularly the oppressed, from around the globe.
Neither the U.S. nor Israel has the right to dictate to the Palestinians the composition of their leadership. Workers World Party has always strongly supported the right of the Palestinian people for self-determination and their heroic struggle for national liberation. Unity among the Palestinian liberation organizations can bring them closer to that goal.