Ousting the Quislings is Sine Qua Non for National Unity

While most Palestinians are praying for the success of the ongoing efforts to end the lingering crisis between Fatah and Hamas, Fatah’s behavior in the West Bank indicates that the mainstream PLO faction is not really serious about national reconciliation. In recent days and weeks, Palestinian Authority (PA) security officials made a plethora of serious statements suggesting that they value their inherently subservient relationship with Israel much more dearly than they do the cause of Palestinian national unity.

This week, the Chief of the “National Security Forces” in the West Bank, Diab al Ali, also known as Abu al Fath, reportedly described resistance to the Israeli occupation army as “a criminal act that produces criminals and murderers.” The tone of Abu al Fath’s remarks caricatured a man who has put all his trust in the PA-Israeli “partnership” and who has turned his back to decades of bitter but heroic struggle by the Palestinian masses for freedom from the Nazi-like Israeli occupation. Earlier, the main Palestinian security chiefs in the West Bank held a truly shameful meeting with their Israeli “counterparts” at the settlement of Beit El near Ramallah. During that ignominious meeting, which took place in September, the PA chiefs, who are supposed to serve the national interests of their people, assured their Israeli “colleagues” that “we have one common enemy, that is Hamas,” and that “there is no conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.” According to the Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea, who attended the infamous meeting as an observer, the Palestinian officers went as far as asking the commanders of the Israeli army, the very army that occupies their country and savages their people, to supply them with weapons and training so that the PA could re-conquer Gaza by force.

Unfortunately, the PA leadership completely ignored these brazenly treacherous behaviors, which in itself underscores the extent to which the PA leadership has drifted away from the Palestinian national discourse. The perfidious collusion between the PA security apparatus and the Israeli occupation army against Palestinian national interests is only one aspect of an overall trend on the part of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian regime to eradicate Abu Ammar’s [DV: Yasser Arafat] heritage. True, the legacy bequeathed by the late Palestinian leader wasn’t particularly rosy. Abu Ammar did leave a myriad of security agencies plagued with corruption, ignorance, indiscipline and staffed with people with questionable credentials. However, Yasser Arafat would have never allowed Fatah to stoop to this level by readily becoming an additional arm of the Israeli occupation to torment and further debilitate the Palestinian people. Hence, the current PA behavior vis-à-vis Israel is nothing short of a national apostasy of unprecedented proportions. This is why it is really difficult to be optimistic about the ongoing Egyptian efforts to end the split between Fatah and Hamas unless Fatah and the PA are willing to reverse their misdeeds.

True optimism can only be justified by good-will on both sides. Wishful thinking and prayers alone don’t breed optimism, let alone tangible results on the actual Palestinian arena. To the chagrin of all Palestinians, the PA behavior in the West Bank doesn’t really foster mutual trust between Fatah and Hamas. Indeed, how can Fatah, or more correctly those at the helm in Fatah, be trusted for achieving national reconciliation when masked armed men affiliated with Fatah continue on a daily basis to round up and maltreat suspected Hamas activists, mostly on flimsy and concocted charges? True reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas should have been preceded by confidence-building measures such as stopping torture, freeing incarcerated journalists and political prisoners and reinstating civil servants unceremoniously fired from their jobs because of their political orientation. Hamas has already released the bulk of Fatah’s prisoners in Gaza, but Fatah has yet to stop the daily arrest of Hamas’s activists.

A few days ago, an elderly Palestinian whose son had been arrested by the Israeli occupation army told this writer that he breathed a sigh of relief because the 19-year-old college student was in the custody of the “authorities” rather than the “authority.” When I asked the man why he thought the Israelis were more merciful than the PA, he said he was sure that this was the case. Of course, the Israelis are not merciful at all, for they are the root cause of all evils in Palestine. Israel is itself a crime against humanity of unmatched proportions.

There is no doubt that the success of the Egyptian-mediated reconciliation efforts is a paramount national interest. However, there is more than reasonable suspicion that the security agencies, some of which have forged a strategic bondage with foreign elements, will do everything they can to thwart and sabotage the reconciliation efforts; this is not soothsaying nor delving into the realm of the unknown. After all, the restoration of national unity can’t be realized as long as the current quisling-occupier formula governing the relationship between the PA and Israel remains intact.

Fatah simply can’t embrace Israel with its right hand and Hamas with its left. The termination of the Israeli connection is therefore a sine qua non for the success of national unity talks in Cairo. More to the point, the PA would have to sever or at least freeze its CIA connection, namely the near carte balance granted to the American intelligence apparatus to mold the Palestinian security apparatus in accordance with the Bush administration’s Islamophobic outlook whereby Islam is viewed as the enemy and Israel as a friend and ally in the war on “terror.” One of the key contentious issues that will be discussed in Cairo is the restructuring of the Palestinian security apparatus according to professional standards. In other words, the present security apparatus in the West Bank would have to be dissolved and replaced by a new one chosen, not by a CIA general who is answerable to a Jewish-Zionist neocon in Washington D.C., but rather by a truly patriotic Palestinian government that is answerable and responsible, first and foremost, to the Palestinian people and their elected representatives.

Needless to say, in order to expedite these crucial goals, it might be necessary to dismiss all CIA-trained security personnel who were inculcated with the poisoned slogan that the enemy is Hamas, not Israel. Indeed, the last thing Palestine and the Palestinian people need are “professional soldiers” who would shoot and kill their countrymen in the streets of Palestine on Israel’s behalf as happened in Hebron last year. Hence, it is imperative that each and every cadre that would join the Palestinian security apparatus be un-contaminated with the CIA school of thought which teaches security men in Third World countries to shoot first and think afterwards. Such cadres would have to be reeducated and re-indoctrinated in the all-important principle that shedding Palestinian blood by Palestinian hands is an unforgivable crime amounting to grand treason. This principle would have to be applied meticulously in both Gaza and the West Bank and both Hamas’s and Fatah’s men would have to internalize it, or else they would be fired unapologetically.

Furthermore, the CIA method of selecting these cadres, e.g. only accepting people who scored very poorly in their schools and whose IQ is very low, would have to be scrapped and reversed. Hence, only people with a college degree and a reasonable intelligence level should be allowed to join the security apparatus because ultimately ignorant people wouldn’t make good soldiers. I don’t believe that being meticulous about these matters is unwarranted. The behaviors of some members of the Palestinian security agencies toward their own people have been more than appalling.

I have seen masked soldiers humiliate and torture and beat innocent Palestinians on no other ground than the suspicion that the victim is affiliated with an Islamic student bloc or may be a supporter of Hamas. Such vindictiveness would have to disappear from our life once and for all. Otherwise, true Palestinian unity will remain a far-fetched dream.

Khalid Amayreh is a journalist living in Palestine. Read other articles by Khaled, or visit Khaled's website.