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Fatah drops policy of ‘armed resistance’ to Israel

Another outcome of the infighting between Hamas and Fatah whereby the Fatah movement was kicked out of Gaza due to a combination of superior fighting power of the Hamas armed groups and the weakness of Fatah. In order to make the Fatah based Palestinian Government now controlling only the West Bank as more palatable to the US and other Western Governments, the new policy outlined by the Palestinian Government makes no mention of armed resistance, instead using the concept of popular resistance as a way to confront Israel. As expected, such a step-down has brought derision from Hamas, which refuses to accept the existence of Israel and will continue to undertake all forms of resistance against Israel.

This is a continuation of measures that seek to promote the concept of peace between the Fatah based Government and Israel, and also seek to deepen the split between Fatah and Hamas. Fatah will get a number of carrots, designed to make their life better and improve their image in the West Bank while Gaza will continue to suffer a life getting worse due to sanctions, no economic improvements, and so on. In another measure earlier this month, Israel released 178 fighters affiliated with Fatah after they spoke the word of peace, while refusing to do anything similar for Hamas fighters. In fact, a number of Hamas legislators are still jailed, and there is no reason for the Israelis to make any sort of conciliatory steps towards Hamas and the Gaza Strip.

For the first time in its history, the Palestinian Authority has published a policy platform that doesn’t include “armed resistance” to Israel as a core principle. A new government program presented by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and prime minister Salaam Fayyad has drawn praise from peaceniks on both sides, and fresh scorn from Hamas, after the Arabic word muqawama was left out of the document for the first time since the PA was established in 1993. The program was presented to the Palestinian cabinet on Thursday, but details of it began to emerge only Friday.
An aide to Mr. Fayyad said Friday that the deletion didn’t mean Palestinians are any more accepting of the 40-year-old Israeli occupation of their lands. Instead, the new government will embrace what Mr. Abbas has called “popular struggle” while rejecting armed attacks on Israeli targets. “We have the right to refuse and resist the occupation, but our experience shows that peaceful, active resistance — like in the first intifada, which was absolutely non-violent — could be more effective,” said Jamal Zakut, a close confidante of Mr. Fayyad’s.

This is something that Israel will welcome. No matter what the current state of progress between the Palestinians and Israel, there is a large section of people in Israel who would like nothing better than to have a time of peace, and not be worried about terrorism and suicide bombings. Currently they have that due to the wall in the West Bank, but a long term peace is something that will enable the country to develop and grow economically much more.
Of course, any solution or a peace initiative still does not reconcile the changed status of the Gaza Strip where the Hamas rulers refuse to acknowledge any peace initiatives by the Fatah movement and will certainly find it hard to accept any accord that leaves portions of the West Bank, Gaza or Jerusalem with the Israelis, and Israel will not accept any agreement that removes control of Jerusalem from it.

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