Open-casket peace burial in the Near East

Heads or tails, go ahead, you call it! Heads you say? It looks like it came out heads, so we’d better make it two out of three. Damn, heads again! Let’s make it three out of five. Kids’ game, you say? Think again. That’s how grown-up bully nations play this thing we call “the democracy game.”

We are seeing it happen all over in Latin America, Venezuela being most news-worthy because of its colorful leader, Hugo Chávez, and his quips directed at George W. Bush or US’ historical mismanagement of relations with its southern neighbors. But we are also seeing it everywhere else, and with a recent sordid outcome in the Near East.

When Hamas won the Palestinian elections a year and a half ago, Israel and the US just didn’t accept the results. Not because there were irregularities in how the election was conducted, but because the majority of Palestinians didn’t vote “the right way.” And, as a measure of punishment for Palestinians’ lack of docility, both Israel and the United States put an economic chokehold on all Palestinians; also quickly twisting the EU’ arm to suspend aid, thus keeping the pressure on until those politically-illiterate ingrates were ready to capitulate to despair, and bring on a mini civil war – since one cannot conduct a coup on oneself, as the recent altercation has been misnamed.

Abbas’ reaction to Hamas’ takeover in Gaza went by the book (the PA Basic Law, or de facto constitution) when he dismissed PM Ismail Haniyeh, but he acted illegally on all other counts, such as the declaration of an “emergency government,” or the naming of a new prime minister, Salam Fayyad, since this gentleman is not a Hamas party member. And the president cannot rule by decree unless all the elements of such decree are approved by the Legislative Council during its first meeting under emergency conditions, as stipulated in Article 43 of the Basic Law.

Bottom line: the Palestinian Authority has in fact ceased to be courtesy of a fratricidal act of desperation. The Fayyad government cannot be truly recognized as a legitimate government, one representative of the Palestinian people now geographically, and for now politically, divided in two. Although these West Bank power-holders are likely to receive full support from Washington and Tel Aviv, and long withheld tax funds by Israel are starting to be released, negotiations that may originate between this illegitimate group and Israel will not hold water; and the US position will continue to be seen in the same light as that which has shone during the past 40 years.

In every respect the Palestinian Authority, the path to statehood, has been terminated, declared null and void. The introduction to the Basic Law referring to the Palestinian people as its ultimate political authority by being the source of power has extinguished its flame, becoming just poetic history. The reality now faced is that this is 2007, 1428 for most Palestinians, and the gravel path established by the 1993 and 1995 Oslo Accords was to be “asphalted” within a period of five years, something which has not come to past. Arguably, thanks for the most part to Bush’s inertia on this critical issue, prompted to be sure by the parasitic relations between the United States and Israel.

The two-state solution for Old Palestine (Israel and New Palestine) has now taken a new turn as a two-encampment solution to a people who have been suffering non-stop for almost six decades. Two-encampments: Gaza and the West Bank… back to square one and suffering re-dux.

Shame, shame on us! We have gone from “divide et impera” to “divide et humilito.” Our political effort in the Near East has taken a new approach, from divide and conquer (or divide and rule) to divide and humiliate. There just isn’t another honest way to view it.

When you are the ultimate holder of power, you make up the rules with the game still in progress or even right at the end. But, how long can the US keep flipping coins and declaring that it has won every game? That remains to be answered, but for now, Bush and the State Department have made it pretty clear: the US will not stop anyone from making a choice; they can either play America’s game or, simply, abstain.

Meanwhile let’s just give a decent burial to the Palestinian Authority and the hope it once gave not just Palestinians but peace-loving people throughout the world. Rest in peace, the peace you never had.