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The Gaza War: Victory for the Palestinian People

By Hatem Abudayyeh

Israel’s 22-day assault on the Palestinian people in Gaza, starting Dec. 27, 2008, ended when Israel acknowledged defeat – declaring a unilateral ‘ceasefire’ Jan. 17. Israel’s political and military goals were not met and, as in the summer of 2006, when the Lebanese resistance defeated Israel’s military, the Palestinians and their resistance emerged victorious.

Israel’s propaganda machine could not disguise the fact that the assault was meant to crush the Palestinian resistance. Targeting the whole of the Palestinian people, approximately 1350 Palestinians, including over 300 children, were killed in the attacks, with over 5000 more injured. Over half of the injured were women and children.

Millions of people across the world rose in protest against Israel’s massacres and war crimes. The Israelis were left scrambling to defend their atrocities, but were not able to, even with the continued military, diplomatic and political support of the U.S.

The mass Arab and international popular movements united around the world, including hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Americans here, taking to the streets in passionate support for the Palestinian people. The governments of Bolivia and Venezuela cut diplomatic ties with Israel, expelling Israel’s ambassadors from their respective capitals.

The Palestinian Front and Resistance

As analyzed in Fight Back! News Service in February of 2006, Hamas won the majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections of January 2006. Soon after, Israel, the U.S. and the European Union refused to acknowledge the victory and imposed a political blockade on Hamas and its appointed Palestinian Prime Minister, who, according to Palestinian law, was empowered to form a unity government arrangement with elected Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.

Later, in June 2007, after an internal battle between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah movement supporters, Hamas took power in Gaza, prompting Israel to immediately impose a military siege on the Strip, closing the borders and restricting the entry of food, medicine, medical supplies, fuel, electricity and other essential items needed for the Gazans’ survival.

Both the blockade and Israel’s breaking the ceasefire with the Palestinians on Nov. 4, 2008 are acts of war. The Palestinian resistance to Israel’s offensive is a legitimate response to an illegal military occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank that has continued unabated since 1967. Israel’s unilateral declaration of the current ‘ceasefire’ is a sham, as elements of its ground forces remain in Gaza and the siege has not ended; nor have the border crossings, particularly at the Rafah border with Egypt, been opened. Tons of humanitarian goods have been sent back by the Israelis and Egyptians, most notably a delivery from Iran and a ship from Lebanon that also carried former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

Israel’s unilateral ‘ceasefire’ also signifies that its military was not able to defeat the Palestinian resistance, which was strong and unified and included all the organizations that constitute the Palestinian national liberation movement – Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Islamic Jihad, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Fatah and others. It also signifies that Israel’s political goals of fostering internal Palestinian division – to impose an acceptance of Israeli apartheid and occupation on the Palestinian people – was defeated as well.

This unity in resistance must translate into a political unity. So, although there are Egyptian-mediated talks between Hamas and Fatah planned, neither organization can lead the Palestinian people alone and their battle for control of the Palestinian polity can only weaken the Palestinian cause.

The Palestinian people insist that its representative should be a national unity formation, one that truly represents all of the Palestinian social sectors and resistance forces. led by a reformed and reconstituted Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The Arab Front and ‘Normalization’

The summit of Sharm el-Sheikh (an Egyptian resort town) in late January, attended by Europeans and some Arab regimes, represents a threat to the entire Arab people and is a an attempt to revive colonialism in the Arab world. There, the discussion of European ‘monitoring’ of the Egyptian-Palestinian border proves that there is no sovereignty either in Egypt or in Gaza and that these European imperialist powers are trying to impose their hegemony on the Arab peoples.

Mouin Rabbani, a contributing editor to the Middle East Report magazine, dismissed the significance of the summit, according to Aljazeera English. He said the leaders talked about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as if it had been caused by an earthquake, adding, “I’m speechless, that you can, in 2009, have a major international gathering to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and have a whole series of keynote addresses, in which the word ‘occupation’ isn’t mentioned even once.”

In addition, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is talking about a “new Middle East” – one, for all intents and purposes, that does not challenge his and the other reactionary Arab leaders’ attempts to ‘normalize’ relations with Israel. As Mubarak explained to the Egypt State Information Service, normalization “simply means that there will be no restrictions whatsoever on cooperation in any area.”

Over the past 15 years since the failed Oslo Peace Accords, this ‘cooperation’ has manifested itself in Egyptian, Jordanian and Saudi pressure on the Palestinian Authority to liquidate the armed Palestinian resistance by arresting resistance leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and engaging in ‘security talks and coordination with the Mossad (Israel’s intelligence and special operations agency) and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

The Israeli Front

In Israel the ultra-right-wing is definitely on the rise. As this analysis goes to press, Israeli President Shimon Peres has asked Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next Israeli unity government, after the recent Israeli elections saw the rightist Likud and the center-right Kadima Party neck in neck in Knesset (Parliament) seats won.

But since neither party was close to the 61 seats needed to secure the position of Israeli Prime Minister, both were falling all over themselves to unite with the virulently racist and anti-Arab Yisrael Beiteinu Party, which won 15 seats and is led by Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman is a former member of the outlawed Kach Party, whose founder, Meir Kahane, advocated the forcible expulsion of all Palestinians from all of historical Palestine.

Now, Kadima’s leader, Tzipi Livni, claims that she is uninterested in joining any government that she does not lead, stating she “would not serve as a fig leaf for a government of paralysis.” But before Peres chose Netanyahu over her to form the new government, she “boasted of her close ties with Lieberman and their long acquaintanceship, presenting him as a legitimate politician and desirable partner in a future coalition led by her,” according to the editorial page of Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Haaretz also reports that Netanyahu has promised to initiate legislation to deprive Palestinians of their citizenship and other rights in the 1948 territories, in support of Lieberman’s stance that all Palestinians who live there must sign a loyalty oath to Israel.

Netanyahu must also bring Shas, the ultra-Orthodox Sephardic party, and several smaller religious parties (that all also have anti-Arab platforms), into his coalition government to secure the 65 seats that he guaranteed in his negotiations with Peres. These developments indict the oxymoronic ‘Jewish democratic’ state of Israel.

Palestinian-Israeli ‘Peace’ and the Lessons of Gaza

Finally, the recent elections in Israel and the Gaza War have proven the utter futility of the PA’s ‘peace negotiations’ with Israel, which have continued under the auspices of, and under pressure from reactionary Arab regimes and the ‘quartet’ (U.S., Russia, European Union and the United Nations). Most of the Palestinian resistance forces have rejected these negotiations, stating that peace is a mirage while Israel continues its military occupation of the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem and the West Bank, and while Israel detains over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners and expands illegal Jewish-only settlements.

The Gaza War has established that Israel is not indomitable The Palestinian armed resistance is still alive and well. The vast majority of the Palestinian people support the resistance as a means to end the occupation, to secure the Right of Return for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants and to achieve freedom, independence and a lasting peace for all the people in the region.

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