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The 'Other', Older Palestinian Coup D'etat

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More out of presuming the weakness of Hamas than out of feeling a strength in his own position, but stiffening his back with the U.S. and Israeli determination to push hard with their three pre-qualifications, President Abbas feels safe enough to persistently reiterate his commitment to Annapolis and to corner the besieged Islamic movement to either dismantle voluntarily or otherwise being swept away in a way or another, and he is on record as saying recently that the end of the "black coup d'etat" in Gaza is only a matter of time.

However the end game of the Annapolis process is still far away from being the only game in the town as it is held hostage to Hamas' fate as much as it has cornered Hamas, but meanwhile this process remains the detrimental factor that makes or breaks the unity of Palestinian ranks, as long as both Palestinian protagonists continue to risk it out in their brinkmanship policies.

President Abbas in a public speech commemorating the forth anniversary of Arafat's death on November 11 reiterated his commitment to Annapolis, condemned the Hamas "black coup d'etat" in 2007, and held Hamas responsible for the inter - Palestinian political and geographical split with the West Bank as well as for the failure of the "national dialogue" and the collapse of several Arab mediation efforts to end the Palestinian divide.

Ironically, Abbas' US – led backers rarely use his "coup d'etat" label to describe the violent Hamas showdown with the security forces loyal to him in Gaza more than a year ago as they have their own labels, mostly derived from terrorism, to exclude Hamas.

However, in retrospect Hamas "black coup d'etat" in Gaza was in fact the result of a much wider, deeper and older political and military coup d'etat that is still ongoing to deprive Hamas from its democratically – won victory in the legislative elections of January 2006, pre-empt the repetition of that bitter democratic process to guarantee by all means the exclusion of Hamas or similar Palestinian political orientation, and to reinstate Israel's Palestinian partner to the Oslo peace accord of 1993, namely the Abbas – led PLO and its autonomous PA in the West Bank, as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in any future Palestinian elections, be it presidential, legislative or municipal.

The anti – Hamas coup d'etat began, First, when Israel and the United States led an internationally - imposed collective punishment on the Palestinian people, under Israeli occupation since 1967, by enforcing an economic, financial, political and diplomatic siege on the Hamas-led government in the West Bank and Gaza Strip immediately after the 2006 legislative election, which was facilitated by more than $220 million U.S. and European taxpayers' money and brought Hamas to power in a landslide electoral victory that stunned both the European Union and United States donors to the democratic process and the Jimmy Carter – led international monitors who testified to the fair, free and transparent elections.


Second, the U.S. sponsor who monopolizes the peace – making process in the Arab and Palestinian – Israeli conflict, and allows only a United Nations rubber stamping contribution thereto, forced the hands of the three other members of the Quartet of international UN, EU and Russian mediators in Middle East peace – making to subscribe to the three Israeli preconditions to recognize the outcome of the Palestinian 2006 elections and lift the siege.

Ironically the comatose former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon had proclaimed the Oslo accords "dead" as soon as he assumed power and rolled the tanks of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) to sweep away the political map drawn on the ground by those same accords when, first, they reoccupied the PA autonomous areas in the West Bank in 2002 and, second, they besieged the Nobel Peace laureate Arafat, who was the Palestinian partner to those same accords, for three years in his bedroom until his death in 2004.

The demand that Palestinians unilaterally commit, collectively and individually, to those preconditions again highlights the Israeli lack of reciprocity by ignoring for example the fact that Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of "Israel Baituna," who publicly calls for forced Arab population transfer, was allowed into Ehud Olmert's ruling coalition as deputy prime minister and minister of strategic affairs, or the fact that Benyamin Netanyahu, the leader of the Likud, who is allowed to run in the upcoming Israeli election for prime minister on a platform that refuses the Annapolis process and its two – state solution "vision."

Third, the Abbas – led PLO and PA, backed by their U.S. and Israeli Oslo partners, did their best to prevent the empowerment of the Hamas – only government and later the Hamas – led national unity government, which was formed under the Hamas – Fatah 2007 Mecca agreement, exploiting to the maximum Fatah's dominant grip on the PA security agencies and civil bureaucracy which was tightened all throughout the one party rule of Fatah since 1993, which in turn led Hamas to create their own "executive (police) force," thus excluding an early national political partnership based on the pluralistic outcome of the legislative elections, making the gap wider between the two rival national movements, Fatah and Hamas, and creating the dual legitimacy crisis between the elected Abbas presidency and the elected Hamas – led PLC.

Forth, emboldened by the Annapolis process, the PLO now refuses reciprocal concessions and persists with its "political coup d'etat," offering an impossible – to – accept framework for reconciliation and adamantly insistent that Hamas unilaterally ends its coup d'etat, dismantles its rule in Gaza and its military wings outlawed by the PA, commits to PLO's political programme and respects its signed accords with Israel, voluntarily agrees to give up its electoral mandate by agreeing to go to early elections, i.e. to transform itself into a carbon copy of Fatah as a precondition to join the PLO and the PA as well as to run in the upcoming elections, which all boil down to a Hamas complete surrender to its rival and indirectly to the three Israeli – U.S. preconditions.

This ongoing older PLO coup d'etat to rule out the outcome of the last legislative elections is certain to create the ideal incubator that sustains the rift between the two rival movements as well as the separation between Gaza and the West Bank, and to doom any reconciliation efforts, whether through national dialogue or political mediation.

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*Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist in Kuwait, Jordan, UAE and Palestine. He is based in Ramallah, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

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