many predicted, including myself, the newly elected
Palestinian government led by Hamas has already
started to show an impressive level of pragmatism,
however, Israel and the U.S. seem to not be interested.
As a matter of fact the U.S., in specific, is leading
a global campaign to isolate the Palestinian government
in such a haphazard way, that they are also causing
a troubling level of despair among the average Palestinian
citizen as well.
Observer (UK) recently reported on Mr. Yihiyeh
Musa, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative
Council, who said Hamas had moved into a new
era which did not require suicide attacks.
He was quoted as saying, The suicide bombings
happened in an exceptional period and they have
now stopped, he said. They came to an
end as a change of belief. (April
would think this is good news, especially after
the death and destruction such bombing caused. This,
one would imagine, should be even better news for
Israel and the U.S. given they both have continuously
linked such bombings to the reason that the never-ending
peace process was unable to actually reach its destination,
cautious optimism was not the case. Instead, the
U.S. wasted no time in dehumanizing the newly elected
Palestinian parliamentarians and cabinet ministers.
The war of words has been nearly non-stop since
Hamas victory with all levels of government
in D.C. making the case that Hamas cant change
and there is no reason to let them try. Next was
a cessation of funding to the Palestinian government
and a request for all other countries of the world
to follow suit. Then Israel severed all Israeli
bank ties with the Palestinian banking system, government
related and non-government related. Only yesterday
was a U.S. Department of Treasury decree making
it illegal for Americans to do business with the
Palestinian government. We wait to see tomorrows
of this as Palestinians watch in dismay, trying
to maintain a dignified life under an humiliating
military occupation. The international community
demanded Palestinians hold free and fair elections
at all levels of government, so the Palestinians
did just that, and superbly given their reality.
But after voting a reflection of their bitter reality
of being caged in open air prisons in their own
homeland, the U.S. is now punishing them for not
voting as the U.S. wanted.
Palestinians today are asking simple rhetorical
questions, if the past government was, and it was,
corrupt -- financially, politically and administratively
-- and we voted them out of power, why cant
the U.S. see this as a positive development? What
does the U.S. want, to bring back a proven corrupt
government that made a mockery of international
aid, including U.S. funds? Also, if Israel has blocked
every attempt for Palestinians to solve their issues
at the negotiating table, cant the U.S. understand
that the voting Hamas in office was a simple non-violent
way to tell the world, end this occupation or take
some of your own medicine?
on the ground have never been so tense. The Palestinian-Israeli
conflict, which has always been a political conflict,
is being converted, thanks to the U.S. and Israel,
into a humanitarian crisis. The fear is that hungry
persons react in unpredictable ways.
greater fear is that if the U.S. and Israel are
successful in collapsing the Hamas government and
Hamas in turn decides to abandoned democratic means
to express itself, we will be back where we started
from, suicide bombings killing innocents and setting
the agenda from outside any known political framework.
Does this serve U.S. and Israeli interests? We are
Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American businessman
living in the Israeli- occupied Palestinian city
of El-Bireh, the sister city of Ramallah. He is
co- author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine
and Palestinians (1994) and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.