From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 4 March.
It has been announced that Fatah and Hamas are to form a unity government, paving the way for both to participate in parliamentary and presidential elections due shortly in the Palestine Authority, and perhaps to the reunification of the West Bank and Gaza.
Negotiations to this end have been going on since last May and success has finally been achieved, with Hamas ceding the position of president to Abbas, and having to renounce violence, recognise Israel, and recognise all existing agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Qatar, which generally promotes western imperialist interests, has been actively brokering the arrangement, but it may nevertheless not be acceptable to Israel and the US.
Although Hamas has made what in many people’s eyes would be excessive concessions in the interests of Palestinian unity, Israel has announced that it is not prepared to talk about peace if Hamas (a ‘terrorist organisation’) is involved, and the US is threatening to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority (it has already shut off its contributions to Unesco because that organisation recognised the Palestinian state).
From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 5 November
Sergeant Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held by Hamas since June 2006, has been released in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, including all Palestinian women prisoners except eight.
The 6,000 Palestinian prisoners who remain incarcerated in Israeli jails (including important leaders such as Marwan Barghouti) have mostly been convicted on unreliable evidence, or simply for their political affiliations, while hundreds of others have never been charged. Some 200 of the freed prisoners will not be allowed back into the West Bank but will either be sent to Gaza or into exile.
What may have brought about the deal is the need for the Israeli government to do something to please the Israeli people, who have become very disaffected as a result of rising prices. They have indeed been pleased by the return of Sergeant Shalit, an event aimed at showing that the Israeli government takes care of its own – very important in a country that relies on conscription to maintain its armed forces at the necessary level.
A similar deal has been done between Israel and Egypt. Israel is to release dozens of Egyptians imprisoned by the Israelis in return for an American law student (who has Israeli nationality) who has been charged with spying for Israel.