Anyone reading the majority of international press reports on what is happening in Palestine could be forgiven for thinking Hamas had instigated a coup d'état against the Al-Fatah government of Abbas.
However, in the middle of so much spin and counterspin, Israeli and US propaganda, its important to take a step back and look with a clear head at exactly what has happened over the last few months.
Peter Beaumont writes in today's Observer:
"After years of being hectored to hold elections and adopt democratic norms, a year and a half ago Palestinians duly elected Hamas with 44 per cent of the vote, ahead of Fatah on 41 per cent...It was a good election, as former US President Jimmy Carter observed at the time, a free, fair and accurate expression of the desires of a Palestinian people sick of the uselessness, corruption and gangsterism of Fatah. The problem was that it didn't quite reflect the wishes of Washington and the international community...there was no attempt at engagement, in the way that Fatah, whose militants have perpetrated scores of attacks, has been engaged with for years."
So what did Abbas, Washington and the international community do?
They conspired with Israel and the intelligence services of several Arab states to overthrow and weaken Hamas, while imposing a collective punishment on the Palestinian people for having the nerve to vote the 'wrong' way. They funnelled "weapons and tens of millions of dollars to unaccountable militias, particularly the "Preventive Security Force" headed by Gaza 'warlord' Mohammad Dahlan, a close ally of Israel and the United States and the Abbas-affiliated "Presidential Guard."
Ali Abunimah, @ The Electronic Intifada, :
"US Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams -- who helped divert money to the Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980s and who was convicted of lying to Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal -- has spearheaded the effort to set up these Palestinian Contras. (This background has been extensively detailed in a number of articles published by The Electronic Intifada in recent months). Abrams is also notorious for helping to cover up massacres and atrocities committed against civilians in El Salvador by US-backed militias and death squads."
These anti-democratic actions have been severely criticised by the UN's Middle East envoy, Álvaro de Soto, a Peruvian diplomat who worked for the UN for 25 years in El Salvador, Cyprus and Western Sahara:
"At the time, and indeed until the Mecca Agreement a year later, the US clearly pushed for a confrontation between Fatah and Hamas - so much so that, a week before Mecca, the US envoy declared twice in an envoys meeting in Washington how much "I like this violence" referring to the near-civil war that was erupting in Gaza in which civilians were being regularly killed and injured, because "it means that other Palestinians are resisting Hamas"."
He went further stating that the international boycott of the Palestinians, introduced after Hamas won elections last year, was "at best extremely short-sighted" and had "devastating consequences" for the Palestinian people.
He also confirmed that it was because of pressure from the United States that Abbas refused Hamas' initial invitation to form a "national unity government." De Soto details that Abbas advisers actively aided and abetted the Israeli-US-European Union aid cutoff and siege of the Palestinians under occupation, which led to massively increased poverty for millions of people. These advisors engaged with the United States in a "plot" to "bring about the untimely demise of the [Palestinian Authority] government led by Hamas," de Soto wrote.
This fact has been recognised by even the conservative UK Daily Telegraph "After the Islamists were elected last year, the world sought to isolate their government and strengthen the Fatah party losers." Anti-democratic.
Peter Beaumont asks some pertinent questions:
"Now, after the months of financial embargo of the Hamas-led government by the US and Europe, after the funding and propping up of Fatah's President Mahmoud Abbas, after the slow, crushing squeeze on Palestinian society that encouraged its social disintegration, what have we got? Virtual civil war in Gaza, the polarisation of Palestinian society, a government dissolved by decree, and a new Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, appointed with the explicit blessing of the US.
Let us remind ourselves of the democratic credentials of Fayyad, an intelligent and impressive economist, generally regarded as untouched by corruption. In any other circumstances he might be ideal. But in last year's elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council - the election Hamas won - Fayyad's list secured just 2.4 per cent of votes. Not exactly a popular guy to lead a society in collapse. That is not his only problem. Analysts of the Palestinian political scene don't rate Fayyad's lack of democratic credentials simply on his feeble showing in the elections.
They'll tell you he is largely unknown to most Palestinians; that he has no party machinery to support him; and that his running mate Hanan Ashrawi is unpopular with many Palestinians.
The reality is that the only people who are really behind Salam Fayyad are the European and US diplomats who have long sung his praises behind the scenes to any journalist prepared to listen. So yesterday President Bush and the other members of the Quartet got what they wanted. Abbas trooped dutifully in to see the US consul-general in Jerusalem with Mohammed Dahlan, the man widely credited with beginning the cycle of violence in Gaza, in tow. And when they emerged, the boycott of US monies to the Palestinian government had been lifted.
It is hard not to be cynical. Palestinian society was squeezed until it hurt - punished as a whole for voting for the wrong party. And when the inevitable explosion occurred last week, Abbas finally fired Hamas, as the US has been encouraging him to do amid his months of dithering.
So which was the real coup? Hamas's bloody attack on the violent gangsters allied to Fatah who have terrorised Gaza for a year? Or Abbas's unconstitutional moves yesterday with America's backing?"
Israeli-US propaganda, led by their corrupt puppet Abbas, has moved quickly and is trying to describe what is happening as a Hamas-led coup d'état which is being encourgaed by Iran and Syria.
"Sources in Ramallah said Saturday night that a plan being put together in Abbas' offices calls for continuing the steadfast struggle against what he calls Hamas' "military coup" in the Gaza Strip."
One of their most vociferous conduits for propaganda, the Sunday Telegraph, states today that:
"The exiled head of Palestinian intelligence in Gaza has told The Sunday Telegraph that the takeover by Hamas last week was carried out under orders from Iran, in preparation for a wider conflict this summer. Colonel Bahaa Balusha, the Fatah-loyal intelligence co-ordinator who fled in fear of his life, said his troops were out-gunned by Hamas forces carrying sophisticated artillery supplied to them by Islamist forces looking for a toe-hold on the borders of Israel.
"The situation in Gaza is very difficult. It is an ugly military coup done in an unorganised terrorist manner," he said, adding that international pressure had led to a three-way axis between Iran, Syria and Hamas. "They must instigate some kind of war in Gaza, and they prepared for this war, in terms of training, in Iran and Syria and Lebanon. They want to create a party against Israel, a party with Iran. Col Balusha, who has escaped several assassination attempts including one in which his three children were slaughtered on their way to school, said he warned Mr Abbas months ago that the armed wing of Hamas was working on "an Iranian agenda". This involved a wider conflict in the region, he said."
However, as the Guardian shows, there are other more realistic interpretations:
"The killing that would end with more than 100 dead and as many injured, started last Sunday like any other broken ceasefire in Gaza with accusations on both sides. It would end with an offer from Hamas to continue working with Abbas as usual. Which leaves what occurred last week as more like an episode from the Godfather films than a coup (albeit one by an elected government) - a violent settling of scores."
The Quartet and Israel have also moved quickly to back their puppet Abbas in his unconstitutional and undemocratic takeover of the Palestinian government, while Olmert has admitted that he will "work vigorously to take advantage" of the situation.
We also see that now the corrupt Israeli puppets along with the coward Dahlan have fled Gaza, we can expect to see more war crimes being committed by the Israelis:
"ISRAEL’s new defence minister Ehud Barak is planning an attack on Gaza within weeks to crush the Hamas militants who have seized power there. According to senior Israeli military sources, the plan calls for 20,000 troops to destroy much of Hamas’s military capability in days.
The raid would be triggered by Hamas rocket attacks against Israel or a resumption of suicide bombings...A source close to Barak said that Israel could not tolerate an aggressive “Hamastan” on its border and an attack seemed unavoidable. “The question is not if but how and when,” he said. "
How many innocent civilians will be massacred?