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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/1/16

Abu-Mazen's Balance Sheet

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So what? Will this reinforce in any way the world's struggle against the Israeli occupation? Will this lower by one dollar the US aid to Israel? In the past, successive Israeli governments have ignored dozens of UN resolutions, and Israel's international position has only improved.

The Palestinians are not a stupid people. They know all these facts. A victory in the UN will gladden their hearts, but they know that it will do very little to help them in practice.

I DO not give advice to the Palestinians. I have always believed that a member of the occupying people has no right to give advice to the occupied people.

But I allow myself to think aloud, and these thoughts bring me to the conviction that the only effective method for an occupied people is civil disobedience -- total non-violent popular opposition to the occupation, total disobedience to the foreign conqueror.

This method was refined by the Indian opposition to the British occupation. Its leader, Mahatma Gandhi, was an unusual personality, a moral person with a lot of practical political acumen. In India, some tens of thousands of military and civilian British personnel faced more than a million Indians. Civil disobedience put an end to the occupation.

In our country, the balance of power is extremely different. But the principle is the same: no government can function for long when faced by a population that refuses to cooperate with it in any way.

In such a struggle, violence is always implemented by the occupation. The occupation is always violent. Therefore, in a non-violent struggle of civil disobedience, many Palestinians will get killed, the general suffering will increase a lot. But such a struggle will win. It always did when applied anywhere.

The world, which is expressing deep sympathy with the Palestinian people while cooperating with the occupation regime, will be compelled to intervene.

And, most importantly, the Israeli public, which is now looking at what is happening a few dozen miles from their homes as if it was happening in Honolulu, will wake up. The best of our people will join the political struggle. The weak peace camp will become strong again.

THE OCCUPATION regime is well aware of this danger. It tries to weaken Abbas by any means. It accuses Abbas of "incitement" -- meaning opposition to the occupation -- as if he were a brutal enemy. All this while the security forces of Abbas openly cooperate with the occupation police and army.

In practice, the occupation strengthens the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip, which hates Abbas.

The relations between Hamas and the Israeli government go back a long way. In the first years of the occupation, when any kind of political activity in the occupied territories was strictly forbidden, only Islamists were allowed to be active. First, because it was impossible to close the mosques, and second, because the occupation authorities believed that the enmity of religious Muslims towards the secular PLO would weaken Arafat.

This illusion disappeared at the beginning of the first intifada, when Hamas was founded and rapidly became the most militant resistance organization. But even then the occupation authorities saw in Hamas a positive element, because it divided the Palestinian struggle.

It must be remembered that the separate Gaza Strip is an Israeli invention. In the Oslo agreement, Israel undertook to open four "safe passages" between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Under the influence of the army, Rabin violated this obligation right from the beginning. As a result, the West Bank was totally cut off from the Strip -- and the present situation is a direct result of that.

People everywhere wonder why Netanyahu daily denounces Abbas as an "inciter" and "sponsor of terror," while not mentioning Hamas. To solve this mystery, one must understand that the Israeli Right does not fear war, but is afraid of international pressure -- and therefore the "moderate" Abbas is much more dangerous than the "terrorist" Hamas.

CIVIL RESISTANCE will not happen in the near future. The Palestinian public is not yet ripe for it. Also, Abbas is not the suitable leader for such a struggle. He is not a Palestinian Gandhi, nor a second Mandela.

Abu-Mazen is the leader of a people trying to survive in impossible circumstances -- until the situation takes a turn.

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Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)

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