After weeks of fighting Hamas have retaken control of Gaza. Their fighters have seized key Fatah posts and arresting opposition military leaders bringing calm to the area and allowing life to recommence. Reading the western press you’d think this is the biggest disaster to hit the Palestinians since the nakba but even a glance over the facts discounts this analysis.
Hamas are not only the democratically elected Government with an overwhelming support in Gaza but have won that support by being the most consistent wing of the national liberation struggle. While Fatah are discredited by years of fruitless compromise Hamas alone had a dynamic response to the Oslo accords and selling out of the first intifada. There are those on the left as well as the right for whom this is an uncomfortable truth; who reject the “Islamism” of Hamas in favour of the “secular” forces of the PLO and the 1st intifada but to cling on to such analysis is to deny history. The PLO as a progressive social force in the occupied territories is all but dead since Fatah’s capitulation to western capitalism through the Oslo accords and all other forces in the PLO have been rendered immobile by this betrayal. The second largest force in the PLO, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP), formerly denounced Oslo but was unable to offer an alternative to the demobilisation of the 1st intifada – rejecting the strategy of suicide bombings and in practice recognising the cease fire. The smaller forces from the democratic front (DFLP) to the Stalinist ‘Peoples Party’ have lead themselves into the wilderness through a combination of sectarianism and an orientation on the PFLP and Fatah.
Recent developments have speed up the political decay of the PLO with the PFLP giving tactic support to Hamas and collaborating in certain elections while Fatah in turn moves more and more to being an agent of western interests within the Palestinian movement. The PFLP boycotted the presidential elections (inline with Hamas) and then declared in support of a centre left candidate against Fatah. Developments in Gaza can only bring the left of the PLO (represented by the PFLP and its satellites) closer to the unity government. Fatah on the other hand has strengthened its dependence on western support and that of the collaborationist regimes in the Middle East. Egypt has not once in the last few years allowed supplied to enter Gaza across its borders but gave safe passage to 100 Fatah fighters to join in the fighting against Hamas. Fatah has also been encouraged to break the unity government by the pressure of western boycotts of the Palestinian Authority – ensuring Hamas didn’t stand against Abbas and saving Fatah’s position in Government. The failure of the attempt at Civil War is now being used by Abbas and his allies to close down the PA in the hope that war weariness and the promise of western aid will be enough to defeat Hamas in the coming elections.
Every progressive should support the victory of Hamas in the Gaza and condemn the moves by President Abbas to dissolve the unity Government. It is a cynical move to strangle the national liberation movement in the name of compromise and a better deal for the petit bourgeois Fatah leadership. The civil war was a disaster brought on by the wests determination to break Hamas and the damage it has and will cause the Palestinian people must be placed clearly at with our governments. The only hope for the Palestinians is for closer collaboration between the PFLP and Hamas in uniting with the resistance in Egypt, Jordon and Lebanon and a defeat for the US/UK occupation of Iraq. The best we can do is build an understanding of the situation in Palestine with close links to the intifada and campaign for a defeat for our government in Iraq.