By Azzam Tamimi, the director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought (THE GUARDIAN, 19/12/06):
As Hamas and Fatah supporters took to the streets to protest at or support Mahmoud Abbas's decision to call for early presidential elections, congratulatory gestures landed at Abbas's door from the three major international players that have imposed the sanctions regime against the Palestinians. The White House, Tony Blair and the Israeli government urged the world community to support Abbas in his latest bid to rid them of a Hamas-led government. These three carry the burden of Palestinian blood shed as a result of the crisis.
Despite months of sanctions, the grip of the "international community" could not prevent Hamas from bringing in enough money to maintain basic health and educational services. The hardship did little to convince Palestinians that Hamas was responsible; polls conducted in the West Bank and Gaza pointed to a rise in the popularity of Hamas, countered by an erosion of respect for Fatah.So what does the global community think it can achieve? A resolution, as Blair naively believes? A resumption of negotiations on Israeli terms as Olmert arrogantly expects? An end to all Palestinian struggles for justice as the neocon-led US administration ignorantly hopes? Or an end to rivalry from an Islamic resistance movement that is loyal to the Palestinian dream, as Abbas wishes? There is only one way out of the crisis, and that is for the sanctions to be lifted. The immediate consequence would be the formation of a national unity government without dictation from any outside power. As for the Israelis, their only guarantee of peace would be to recognise the legitimate rights of the Palestinians and enter into negotiations for a long-term truce.