March 2, 2011
An interesting take on events in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria by Khaled Abu Toameh.
Many people have been wondering when and if the popular uprisings currently sweeping the Arab world will also reach the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
When and if the wave of protests do reach the Palestinian territories, it will be directed against the two governments – Hamas and Fatah. Even though the Palestinians need seriously to start thinking of a better alternative to both parties, for this to happen, the pro-democracy movement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip needs the support of the international community, specifically the Americans and Europeans.
The power struggle between Hamas and Fatah is not one between good guys and bad guys: It is a power struggle between bad guys and bad guys. Hamas is bad; but who said that Fatah is any better? Hamas is in power mainly thanks to Fatah's corruption and bad governance.
Almost every day, Palestinians are arrested by Hamas or Fatah and held without trial. The two governments have also been apprehending journalists and political opponents, who complain about torture and intimidation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip prisons.
Some Palestinians have been trying to copy the Egyptian and Tunisian examples by using Facebook and Twitter to demand regime change in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
These attempts, however, have thus far been unsuccessful: both Fatah, which controls the West Bank, and Hamas, which has been in power in the Gaza Strip since 2007, have managed to thwart demands for regime change.
The two rival Palestinian parties have tried to use the Internet to instigate popular uprisings against one another, but to no avail.
Both Hamas and Fatah have shown intolerance toward their critics, often cracking down on those who dare to speak out in support of reform and democracy.
These days, however, there are encouraging signs that Palestinians have finally reached the conclusion that Hamas and Fatah are interested in remaining in power more than in improving the living conditions of their constituents.
Using Facebook, dozens of Palestinians have waged a campaign aimed at forcing Hamas and Fatah to end their power struggle, and place the interests of the people above all considerations.
In the past few days, thousands of Palestinians have taken to the streets to express their discontent with the two Palestinian governments. Many have also been signing petitions urging Fatah and Hamas to stop the war they have been waging against one another since the summer of 2007.
A growing number of Palestinians seem to be fed up with this dispute and want to see the two sides doing something good for the people, not fighting against one another.
But most of all, they need to hear - and see -- from America and Europe that they are willing to support and help to put in place institutions of democracy -- above all, freedom of speech without which no other freedoms are possible, as well as rule of law, open education, freedom of the press, equal justice under law, transparency in banking, property rights, and other freedoms of the west-- and not just set in motion a shallow process that will only set in motion an even more oppressive form of government down the road.
Good luck to them!