MIDEAST MIRROR 01.07.15, SECTION B (THE ARAB WORLD)
1-A new level of confrontation
2-Turkey’s false pretexts
4-The need for national unity
1-A new level of confrontation
What I fear most is that the political decision will be influenced by this media madness, as a result of which Egypt may slide towards repression with all its ensuing repercussions. We would be entering a tunnel from which we would not know how to emerge. And we may yet clone other precedents in the region that we believed or hoped were inapplicable to Egypt. But the circumstances of the public prosecutor's assassination draw our attention to the fact that this possibility is not totally out of the question. For this reason in particular, I claim that this crime warrants special scrutiny that is guided by reason and that rises above tense reactions inasmuch as we refuse to surrender to the desire for revenge and to hatred--Fahmi Houeidi in Egyptian Ashurouq
Although Sissi's hard-line policies have caused many Egyptians who were supporters of the June 30th Revolution that brought him to power to recoil from him, and although the judiciary’s sentences – especially against leftist activists who dared to raise their voice against the regime – have infuriated many Egyptians, the Egyptians have been pouring their anger on the Brotherhood since Monday. Since Monday, the confrontation between the government and the Brotherhood has automatically moved to a new level. This is open to various possibilities, not the least likely of which is a growing number of arrests and prison sentences, that have recently numbered in the hundreds. And it is most likely that we will reach a phase in which gallows will be erected and the postponed death sentences will be carried out--Mona-Lisa Freiha in Lebanese an-Nahar
The reactions to Monday’s assassination of Egyptian Public Prosecutor Hisham Barakat have been unbalanced, notes a moderate Egyptian Islamist, with some urging the government to adopt harsher measures in dealing with the Brotherhood, and others applauding what has happened and gloating over it. But this can only lead Egypt towards greater chaos and repression. Barakat’s assassination has taken the confrontation between the regime and the Muslim Brotherhood to a new level, maintains a Lebanese commentator. The regime is now likely to pursue an even harsher campaign against the Brotherhood, possibly implementing the death sentences that have already passed against some of its senior leaders.
[AP reports Islamic militants unleashed a wave of simultaneous attacks today (Wednesday), including a suicide car bombing, on Egyptian army checkpoints in the north of the Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 30 soldiers, security and military officials said. The attacks took place just south of the town of Sheikh Zuweid and targeted at least six military checkpoints. At least 40 other soldiers were wounded, the officials said. The attacks came just two days after the assassination in Cairo of the country's top prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, and one day after President Abdelfattah el-Sissi vowed to step up a two-year crackdown on militants. Last week, Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani called in an audio message on ISIS followers to launch massive attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is now entering its third week. Wednesday's attacks came in swift response to el-Sissi's pledge the previous day to carry out justice for the prosecutor general's assassination — and possibly move to execute Muslim Brotherhood leaders. Sissi said the government was ready to brush aside criticisms and free the judiciary's hand for a "battle" the country is prepared to wage. Action will be taken within days "to enable us to execute the law, and bring justice as soon as possible," he said. "We will stand in the face of the whole world, and fight the whole world." In a thinly veiled reference to jailed members of the Brotherhood, Sissi blamed the violence on those "issuing orders from behind bars," and warned: "If there is a death sentence, it will be carried out."
MENTALLY UNSTABLE RESPONSE: "As soon as the news of the assassination of the Egyptian public prosecutor was announced, the sounds of a mentally unstable and extreme response rose high," writes Fahmi Houeidi in Wednesday's Egyptian daily Ashurouq.
The madness we heard was that of inciters and cheerers. The former called for setting up the gallows, and the latter wished for more graves to be dug. Despite the conflicts and hostility between them, they both agreed on one thing, the desire to spill more blood, fan the fire and ensure that it spreads. For we have surrendered to the desire for revenge and feelings of hatred; as a result, each side can only see its vendettas, but the country's wellbeing never crosses its mind.
The man's blood was still wet on the ground; his body had still not been removed from the operations room; the criminal investigation experts were still examining the site of the crime; an investigation had still not begun, and witnesses had yet to be cross-examined. And tongues were tied from the shock and horror of the tragedy. Despite this, the voices of madness were reverberating in space. The inciters were mobilizing and stirring up, and the cheerers were gloating and reveling. The former took up their usual positions on the TV screens, and the latter held their celebrations on the social media.
The inciters explained their position as follows: The Brotherhood is the perpetrator; repression is the solution; the security forces should be mobilized and adopt stricter measures; the emergency laws should be activated; the death sentences [on Muslim Brotherhood leaders] should be carried out; and all talk of an ease in tension or of understanding should cease.
As for the cheerers, they deemed what happened as a punishment inflicted by fate to avenge their victims. They claimed that what happened was a sign of the regime's weakness and of its imminent fall, as well as a victory for the policy of violence that will deter their opponents.
If I may summarize the echoes of what happened as I managed to observe them, I would say that the voice of extremism on both sides was loudest – the extremist inciters who coiled up and continued to insist on greater repression, and the extremist cheerers who justified the crime and celebrated it. To be fair, however, I heard an exceptional voice that 'sang out of tune' with the flock of madness, deployed the discourse of reason, and said that the law was the proper resort. This was the head of the People's Alliance Party and Deputy-President of the National Council for Human rights Mr. 'Abdelghaffar Shukr. Asked in a television interview about the need to enact the terrorism law as the inciters have been demanding, he denied the need for exceptional legal measures and deemed implementation of the present criminal law to be adequate to the task.
I am sure that there are others besides Mr. Shukr who have maintained their mental balance and have not joined the flock of madness; but the fit of madness and the media clamor has swamped their voices. What I fear most is that the political decision will be influenced by this media madness, as a result of which Egypt may slide towards repression with all its ensuing repercussions. We would be entering a tunnel from which we would not know how to emerge. And we may yet clone other precedents in the region that we believed or hoped were inapplicable to Egypt. But the circumstances of the public prosecutor's assassination draw our attention to the fact that this possibility is not totally out of the question. For this reason in particular, I claim that this crime warrants special scrutiny that is guided by reason and that rises above tense reactions inasmuch as we refuse to surrender to the desire for revenge and to hatred.
Our analysis of the case should begin with specifying the perpetrators on the basis of a free and fair investigation. That should provide us with evidence that would allow us to understand the turning point that we are heading towards. In this regard, I hope that we will avoid the error we committed when the Dakahlia Governorate's security directorate was bombed on December 24th 2013. The council of ministers met the very next day and declared that the Brotherhood was responsible for the attacks. On that basis, the Brotherhood was proclaimed to be a 'terrorist organization' in a statement announced by then PM Dr. Hussam 'Issa. Later, however, the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis [jihadist organization] published a videotape of the attack in which it claimed responsibility for it and offered the name of the suicide bomber who carried it out (Abu Mariam). The result was that the security forces' eyes were focused on pursuing the Brotherhood, leaving Ansar Beit al-Maqdis to revel savagely in Sinai. Political accounts were settled at the expense of security stability.
Parallel to this, a review is necessary to ensure the safety of officials. It is also necessary to review the consequences and results of the security policy that has been pursued so far and that has not succeeded in combating terrorism over the past two years. And what is no less important is the need to discuss the factors that have led terrorism to target the army, the police and the judiciary, and these agencies relationship to the political conflict raging in Egypt. And any review would be inadequate if it did not include other issues that are fundamental for achieving stability such as easing the political tension, an end to the violation of human rights, respect for the constitution and the law and other such factors that would help absorb the anger, end the bitterness and hatred, and revive the hopes for political reform and peaceful solutions.
The cheering of the gloaters is condemnable and politically and morally unacceptable. As for the calls from the advocates of repression, I have but one comment to them that I borrow from what the [Umayyad] Caliph 'Omar bin 'Abdelaziz told one of his walis who urged him to be harsh in dealing with his subjects.
"His answer consisted of five words: ‘Fortify your land with justice’," concludes Houeidi.
RENAMING THE SQUARE: "Hours after the assassination of the Egyptian prosecutor general, Rabi’a al-'Adawiyya Square [former Cairo scene of widespread Muslim Brotherhood protests and police violence] was renamed as the Martyr Hisham Barakat Square," notes Mona-Lisa Freiha in Wednesday's Lebanese daily an-Nahar.
'Execute the Brotherhood' invaded Twitter and became its most popular hashtag. The calls to hang the Brotherhood's leaders, including General Guide Mohammad Badi'e and deposed president Mohammad Mursi, have fanned the already soaring flames on the various social media.
The only thing Egypt needed to add to its boiling climate was an assassination of this magnitude. For the past two years, the country has been in the midst of a wave of violence and instability, unprecedented since the 1980s. The dreams of change fostered by the two [2012/2013] revolutions are now further away than ever before. After what happened on Monday, the most optimistic prediction still anticipate a new wave of disturbances and repression, further exacerbating the country's crisis instead of resolving it.
Violence in Egypt only brings more violence in its wake. The bloodshed that has not ceased since Mursi was toppled has fueled society's divisions and polarization. The targeting of judges by the Islamists has left their already black record even blacker. There is no doubt that their success in assassinating a figure of Hisham Barakat's standing will add to their momentum and terrorism. They have succeeded in striking at a senior government figure for the first time since their assassination of parliamentary speaker Rif'at al-Majzoub in 1990.
It would be deluded to believe that Sissi would receive such a blow calmly or that he will loosen the iron fist with which he has been confronting his enemies. The assassination of the 'military's public prosecutor' in his stronghold before the Military Academy by what he claims are the 'Brotherhood', and on the eve of the June 30th [anti-Mursi] Revolution's anniversary represents a stark defiance of his regime. Sissi, who has simply turned his back on the international charges of repression leveled against him, will not go soft after what has happened.
Ever since they were removed from power, the Brotherhood refused to give in. Their leadership urged them to fight till 'martyrdom' to regain the 'throne.' When these leaders were arrested and many were sentenced to prison, some of them emerged to publicly and fearlessly call for the assassination of judges.
Although the Brotherhood did not officially adopt Barakat's assassination, there is much suspicion that it was responsible. The fact that it has gloated over a crime as terrible as this has been sufficient to denounce it. But what the Brotherhood has failed to realize is that Barakat's assassination will not restore freedom to those behind bars or suspend the prison and death sentences passed against their leaders.
Barakat's blood will only create more hatred, vendettas, and blood. Although Sissi's hard-line policies have caused many Egyptians who were supporters of the June 30th Revolution that brought him to power to recoil from him, and although the judiciary’s sentences – especially against leftist activists who dared to raise their voice against the regime – have infuriated many Egyptians, the Egyptians have been pouring their anger on the Brotherhood since Monday.
Since Monday, the confrontation between the government and the Brotherhood has automatically moved to a new level. This is open to various possibilities, not the least likely of which is a growing number of arrests and prison sentences, that have recently numbered in the hundreds.
"And it is most likely that we will reach a phase in which gallows will be erected and the postponed death sentences will be carried out," concludes Freiha.
2-Turkey’s false pretexts
Turkey’s pretexts for creating a buffer zone in northern Syria are not credible in light of Ankara’s support for ISIS and the Iraqi Kurds, says today’s Emirates’ al-Khaleej
Turkey's pretexts for intervening in Syria are not credible, maintains the editorial in an Emirati daily. The main pretext – to forestall the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Syria – is belied by the fact that the Syrian Kurds have not said they wish to secede while Turkey has maintained excellent relations with Iraq's Kurds who have publicly declared their desire for independence.
IN A TIGHT SPOT: "After Turkey found itself in the tight spot because it has been able to implement its schemes and achieve what it had been seeking throughout the years of its involvement in the Arab region – after intervening in many Arab states, using the Brotherhood as its spearhead, and sponsoring and backing terrorist groups – it is now resorting to even more dangerous options by heading towards direct military intervention [in Syria] based on the pretext of defending Turkey's interests and security," writes the editorial in Wednesday's Emirati daily al-Khaleej.
The justification provided by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his PM Ahmet Davutoglu cites their concerns regarding the establishment of a 'Kurdish state' in northern Syria after the victories achieved by Kurdish fighters against ISIS terrorists in 'Ain al-Arab [Kobani], Tal Abyad, and other areas. But in fact, the Turkish reaction came after the failure of ISIS's attempt to reoccupy 'Ain al-Arab in an offensive they launched from inside Turkish territories, backed by the Turkish army, with the aim of defanging the Kurds and keeping ISIS in the area as a means of pressuring both the Kurds and the Syrian regime.
Confusion and tension have apparently begun to characterize Turkey’s steps after the failure of everything that Ankara was wagering on by using the card of the Brotherhood and the terrorist groups in Syria and the region in order to fulfill Erdogan's 'Ottoman dream.' Confusion and tension were also the result of the failure of Ankara’s determined efforts to establish a 'buffer zone' in the Syrian north similar to what Israel did in south Lebanon [between 1982-2000].
Turkey's direct military intervention in northern Syria on the pretext of preventing the Kurds from establishing a 'state' would represent a direct assault on a neighboring Arab country and a violation of international law. It also confronts the region with new threat to be added to those posed by the terrorist organizations because this justification is unrealistic and lacks any credibility. The Kurds in Syria have not proposed to establish a 'state.' Moreover, Turkey is allied with the Iraqi Kurds at every level, and it is the latter who have been speaking publicly of their intention to secede from Iraq and establish an independent state. Why go then for a military intervention in Syria where no threat exists to Turkey's interests and security?
It is clear that there are other motives behind this direct military intervention beyond the pretext of the Kurdish question. Some are domestic and have to do with the need to extract Turkey from the peace agreement with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) headed by Ocalan on the grounds that the Syrian Kurdish party is the PKK's other wing. It is therefore only natural for a Turkish intervention against Syria's Kurds to have negative repercussions on Turkey’s Kurdish areas, undermining the entire peace process that is meant to end the historical Kurdish crisis inside Turkey.
Perhaps the questions that need to be raised here are the following: Would any direct military action inside Syria not be in the interest of the armed terrorist groups that enjoy Turkish backing? Would such an action, if carried out, not reshuffle the cards in the region, rendering it even more explosive? Is this what Turkey is seeking?
"We hope Erdogan will reconsider his calculations and retreat from proceeding with his mistakes, thereby sparing Turkey and the region further disasters," concludes the daily.
One thing that last week’s wide ranging ISIS attacks had in common was that the targeted countries have offered a welcoming environment to extremist thought, notes Hamidi al-'Abdullah in today’s Lebanese al-Bina'
One ignored common denominator shared by last week’s terrorist attacks in Kuwait, Tunisia, and France is that these three countries have, in one way or another, provided backing and support for terrorist groups, especially those fighting in Syria, notes a commentator in a pro-Damascus Lebanese daily. This should highlight the fact that terrorist groups will not be restrained by the fact that a particular state or a group backs them or politically agrees with their aims.
THE DOMINANT IMPRESSION: "The dominant impression that all the analyses have focused on is correct, even though it is not the only such impression," writes Hamidi al-'Abdullah in Wednesday's pro-Damascus Lebanese daily al-Bina'.
What is common between the simultaneous terrorist attacks in Kuwait, France, and Tunisia is that ISIS was responsible for these criminal acts, and that they manifest the power, capability, and freedom of movement that this organization now enjoys, going far beyond what al-Qa'ida has achieved since it was established.
Although the perpetrator behind the three attacks on three major continents – Asia, Europe, and Africa – is one and the same, these attacks targeted the Shiites in Kuwait, the Sunnis in Tunisia, and the Christians in France. In other words, terrorism does not target any specific confessional group or sect to the exclusion of others. It targets any group that disagrees with it, even if of the same religion and confessional affiliation as the terrorist group itself, and even if that group shares many of ISIS's terrorist ideas and conceptions. In fact, this is what explains the bloody conflict between terrorist ISIS and the terrorist [Qa’ida-affiliated] Nusra Front.
But there is another common denominator ignored by the dominant analyses and not mentioned in the various media reports, coverage or political statements. This lies in the fact that the attacks occurred in three states that have, in one way or another, provided an environment that embraced terrorist groups as a result of the policies pursued by these states' governments.
France’s current government, for example, has provided all forms of backing to terrorist groups active in Syria, ignoring all the warnings regarding the dangers that may ensue. Some such warnings came from French security agencies. Reports have revealed that the perpetrator of the attack in France was known to be a terrorist; but the French government turned a blind eye to his activities, and the activities of others, because of its conviction that these terrorists were recruiting more fighters and sending them to Syria to strike at the Syrian state. These terrorists therefore were an indirect expression of the French government's aspirations to topple the regime in Syria.
Tunisia also, and until very recently, was a state that embraced the terrorist groups, or the groups that adopt ideas and conceptions that nourish terrorist thought and encourage its proliferation. Over a period of four years, Tunisia provided a safe haven for the terrorist groups during the period when the Muslim Brotherhood was in power under the name of Ennahda Movement in Tunisia. But even if the government now is in the hands of Nida' Tunis, this does not mean that this party, which insisted on forming a coalition government with Ennahda, can simply eliminate Ennahda's legacy without waging a relentless war that will incur a heavy cost in order to pull out this shameful legacy by the roots.
As for Kuwait, it is an inseparable part of the Gulf state system. The government of Kuwait – after the Sultanate of Oman – may be the least involved among the Gulf governments in the protection of terrorism, in fact. It has adopted a clear position in this regard. But it has provided an environment that embraces the terrorists in one form or another. Nothing demonstrates this better than the fact that the Kuwaiti government did not shut down the Wissal TV channel that backs terrorist takfiri thinking except after the suicide attack on a mosque in the capital, Kuwait.
"For that attack has posed a direct threat to Kuwait's stability and national unity," concludes 'Abdullah.
4-The need for national unity
What the Palestinians want is not just a government reshuffle but genuine national unity and a new political program, says Hani al-Masri in Palestinian al-Ayyam
The PA leadership’s insistence that all parties to any Palestinian national unity government should abide by the International Quartet's requirements is a mere pretext whose aim is to exclude Hamas, since both the Quartet and Israel have effectively disregarded them, argues a leading Palestinian commentator. In fact, talk of a national unity government appears to be a mere reaction to the progress in the talks between Hamas and Israel over a long-term truce in Gaza. What is required is a genuine national unity government and a restructuring of the PLO in the service of the Palestinians’ national aspirations.
DEADLINE EXPIRED: "The deadline set by the PLO's Executive Committee for reaching an [Fatah/Hamas] agreement on the bases for a national unity government has expired," writes Hani al-Masri in the leading Palestinian daily al-Ayyam.
The president has threatened that he would reshuffle the current government with or without Hamas's consent. He has stressed that the incoming government must abide by his program, and that every minister should personally commit to that program, in fact. And this has elicited a response from Hamas in which it has stressed its own demands (or preconditions) for agreeing to take part in the proposed government.
The first point worth noting is that the drive towards forming a national unity government was not in response to any particular threat or danger. It was a reaction to the progress in the tahdi'a [lull or calming down] negotiations between Israel and Hamas, and the disagreements within the [resigned] national accord government and its inability to take off.
Instead of returning to the signatories to the [2014 Fatah/Hamas] reconciliation agreement, the initiative to form a new government came from the PLO's Executive Committee, despite the fact that it does not include Hamas or Islamic Jihad representatives. The aim is to pit the PLO against Hamas. This is contrary to what had been customary. In the past, Fateh and Hamas used to reach bilateral agreement, after which the other factions and the PLO would accede to it. This is what happened to the Cairo Agreement and the ash-Shati' declaration – even though the latter was agreed via the facilitation of a PLO delegation.
Despite the importance of all this, the identity of the parties that will discuss the bases of the new government is not an issue that should derail its formation. No accord or national unity government can see the light of day without Fateh and Hamas's acquiescence because they are the largest factions, having secured the largest number of votes in the  Palestinian Legislative Council elections, and because – and this is the more important point – each of them controls either the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, directly or in a disguised manner.
The second point worth making has to do with exaggerating the importance of reaching an agreement on the government's political program by insisting that it should be the same as that of the PLO.
Certain figures who are perceived to be members of the president's [Abbas’s] camp appear to be 'more royalist than the king' on this issue. They insist that the next government should commit to the PLO's program, and specifically to the International Quartet's preconditions. And they totally ignore the fact that the Quartet has died, as evident from its failure to hold any meetings for a long time; moreover, even when it does meet, it agrees on nothing. Its representative Tony Blair has resigned, and it has decided not to appoint a successor. Before he tendered his resignation, the Quartet asked him to hold two meetings with Hamas's Politburo head Khalid Mish'al to reach an agreement on the terms for a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas. That represents a fundamental and practical disregard of the Quartet’s own terms, which require Hamas to recognize its preconditions if the movement is to be recognized or dealt with, or if any PA government in which it takes part is to be recognized.
Moreover, successive Israeli governments, including Netanyahu's current government, have ignored the Quartet's preconditions by negotiating with Hamas indirectly and concluding numerous tahdi'a and prisoner exchange deals with it. In fact, the Israeli government is currently negotiating with Hamas. And this means that the PA’s insistence on adopting the Quartet's preconditions by invoking the threat of being boycotted is a mere pretext, and is intended to serve the interests of certain influential circles that do not want the national unity government to see the light of day.
The Palestinians need a national unity government headed by the president, as required by the Doha Declaration, and that includes [Gaza-based Hamas PM] Ismail Haniyeh and the most senior representatives of the other factions, as well as weighty national figures. This is necessary if it is to be strong enough to face up to the enormous challenges that confront us. If the president and other leading figures remain outside the government, it will become no more than yet another center of power among others, whereas it should be the center of decision-making that is capable of implementing its decisions as well.
Since the president has announced (and as has been confirmed by the PLO Executive and Central Committees) that it has become necessary to reconsider the relationship with the occupation and reevaluate the agreements concluded with it in order to put an end to the situation where there is 'a Palestinian Authority without authority,' a 'comfortable occupation,' and a 'separation of Gaza from the West Bank' – to the point that the Central Committee has taken a decision to end security coordination with Israel –there is no justification for those who wish to take us backwards and insist that the incoming government should commit to the International Quartet's preconditions.
The next government's program should be the same as that of the PLO that calls for the right of return, the right of self-determination and national independence; that is to say, as it was before the concessions that brought it down and turned it into a different program.
We need a unity government whose program is totally clear regarding negotiations and resistance, and the need to reconsider the PA's structure, tasks, and commitments. We want a government that both satisfies the requirements of international recognition and the new challenges facing us. Its program must be clear regarding the tahdi'a. It should not be a government that consolidates the current [Gaza/West Bank] division and transforms it into permanent secession in return for a mere gradual or even total end to the [Gaza] siege and the establishment of a floating seaport under Israel's control with international cover; instead, this should be part of a political process that will end the occupation and achieve freedom, the right of return, and independence.
The government's program must be clear on the question of security, uniting the security forces on patriotic and professional bases, free from factionalism and polarization. It should also be committed to resolving the problems of state employees, to ending the siege and reconstructing the Strip, to address the problem of taking control of the crossing points, and put a final end to the split instead of managing it, taking into consideration the difference characteristics and circumstances in the West Bank and Gaza.
We want a government committed to an accord democracy that includes new elections provided they are free and open, and their outcome is respected. These elections should not be treated as a means to monopolize power or exclude or dominate others. The object should be to consolidate fair competition within a framework that deepens national unity so as to ensure that we do not bring our differences to it and thereby paralyze it. We need a government that translates international recognition of the Palestinian state on the ground, not only on that exists in the UN corridors. This means that we should liberate ourselves – even if in a gradual but well-studied manner – from the previous commitments and agreements [with Israel] that cannot rule us forever.
We also want the coming government to be able to unify our political regime and to end every aspect of the split, including domination of the PLO and the PA, and Hamas's control of Gaza. This government should serve the national interest and act as a tool in the PLO's hands after its institutions, which have grown old and derelict, have been rebuilt.
We want a government that does not help return to bilateral negotiations under exclusive American sponsorship with merely formal international participation. Instead, we want a government that shuts the door once and for all in the face of this prospect. We want a government that respects human rights and equality among all citizens regardless of gender, religion, color, or party affiliation. We want a government that fights the rise in prices, monopolies, corruption, nepotism, exploitation, and the neoliberal free economy that grinds down the poor and impoverishes them further while serving the interests of the rich and making them richer.
If this is the government that we want and need, can it be achieved? Or is the call for it no more than a ploy as evident from the mutual preconditions, using the deadline for forming it as a threat, and the wager on time and certain parties and developments for such an initiative to resume the negotiations, or waiting for Hamas's collapse, or the improvement of Hamas's relations with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, or a long-term tahdi'a agreement with Israel?
The preliminary answer to this question is evident from the failure to achieve any real breakthrough in the dialogue over the bases of the government so far. The final answer will emerge in a few days or a few weeks’ time at most.
If the formation of a unity government fails, what kind of government will be formed instead? An accord government such as the present one; a colorless, tasteless, odorless government that has no power, not only in the Gaza Strip, but in the West Bank as well? This is because it is a government that does not rule; the occupation is the master here. It is the occupation that grants the PA some limited authorities and powers- sometimes expanding and sometimes narrowing them as is happening today in an attempt to subjugate the president to the occupation's endless and continuous demands and preconditions.
Or will it be a government but without national accord, one that will consolidate the split even if it does not lead to the formation of another government in the Gaza Strip, one that will have to bear full responsibility for what happens if Hamas absolves itself from it?
The path to national salvation requires more than an agreement on a government while disregarding the national program and the PLO, which represents all the Palestinians.
"Rebuilding the PLO's institutions and revamping the organization to include all shades of the spectrum is the natural gateway towards ending the split. The PLO must be enabled to do everything possible to protect the Palestinian people wherever they are located, and to improve their living conditions, and pave the way towards realizing their national aims and dreams," concludes Masri.
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