10 February 2007

The Mecca Declaration

So, Hamas and Fatah have reached an agreement
on forming a unity government - maybe it was
the serene and sacred surroundings of Mecca that
persuaded the parties that it was now or never,
or maybe it was the promise by King Abdullah of
Saudi Arabia of 1bn dollars in aid, or maybe it was
the clear signs back in Gaza and elsewhere,
demonstrations -some organised by children- for
unity and an end to inter-Palestinian violence,
that convinced them?
Whatever it was, they did reach an agreement
which, at least on paper, should work.
Of course the agreement is not fair because
Hamas won those elections a year ago with an
absolute majority, so has an inalienable right to
form a government of its own choosing, which
it did - and we all know what happened.
Now Hamas has accepted a distribution of cabinet
posts which will not guarantee it the majority to
which it is entitled, most importantly the posts of
interior, foreign and finance minister will go to
independents, but Ismail Haniya stays as PM.

Once again, Hamas has shown a remarkable and
admirable flexibility and pragmatism in the face
of impossible difficulties, and the entire world
should warmly applaud that - if only the leaders
of the West, most notably America and Israel,
were big enough and wise enough to act like this!

Why "once again"? Because not long ago, those
same Hamas leaders persuaded their people that
participating in practical politics and democratic
elections just might be worth trying and that
must have been terribly difficult - but they
succeeded in doing that and they delivered
the election result that the vast majority of
Palestinians wanted, only to have the "civilised
world" tell them that it liked the elections but
not the result, so it added political isolation and
crippling economic sanctions to the illegal and
brutal occupation they have endured for so long,
expecting that Hamas, or Palestinian support for
it, would crumble - neither has happened and
the clear winner, both morally and practically,
is of course Hamas.

The overriding objective of the agreement is to
bring inter-Palestinian violence to an end, and all
good people will hope and pray that it does just
that. Whether it will make the so-called
"international community" lift the financial and
political siege remains to be seen but hopefully,
at the very least, it will split the Quartet down
the middle, with America and the UN refusing to
budge from their ridiculous demands, and with
Russia and the EU taking a pragmatic and nearly
human approach, namely that of resuming
official relations with the legitimate Palestinian
government both in terms of aid and assistance
and in terms of normal contacts, without any
conditions attached.
In this context, the Mecca Agreement will become
a very serious test of the integrity of the West -
which no doubt explains the deafening silence so
far from Washington, London, Brussels!!!

Israel will of course never be satisfied whatever
the Palestinians do and it is up to the "civilised
world", should it still exist somewhere, to tell
Israel that the time for it to comply with
international law is 40 years overdue.
Sadly, no tragically, there is not even the
smallest sign that that is about to happen.....

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