Alastair Crooke posted an admirably reasonable and far-sighted comment on the Gaza crisis in a time when most commentators can’t seem to look beyond the immediate.
Any psychologist however might have advised the European and US policy-makers that putting one-and-a-half million Palestinians ‘on a diet’, as an earlier chief-of-staff to the Israeli Prime Minister described it, and shredding any plans or hopes that they may have had for their futures, does not make humans more docile or more moderate. After a while in the Gaza pressure-cooker, anger and despair boil-up: Gaza ultimately was set to explode — one way or another.
If this was not discerned by western policy-makers, it was well understood by Hamas. In other words, what is happening in Gaza was all too foreseeable. A few Israelis saw this too, but their ‘grand narrative’ of the global struggle between ‘moderates’ and ‘extremists’ overrode their instincts in respect to the local Palestinian conflict.
The thesis that literally ‘everything’ must be done either to lever ‘moderates’ into power or prevent them from losing power — euphemistically called ‘supporting moderation’ — lies at the heart of the Gaza crisis. […]
Britain and the US have instead [of dealing politically and non-ideologically with Hamas] busied themselves in training a Palestinian ‘special forces’ militia around Mahmoud Abbas, which has been used to suppress political activity by Hamas, and to close-down welfare and social organisations that are not aligned directly with Abbas. A policy of political ‘cleansing’ of the West Bank, cloaked in the rhetoric of ‘building security institutions’, predictably has been met with an equivalent counter-reaction in Gaza. The paradoxical consequence of this has been to create such a schism within the Palestinian body politic that no Palestinian leader now enjoys the legitimacy to bring a political solution before the people: The West has sacrificed its wish for a political solution to its ideology of ‘moderation’ versus ‘extremism’.
Security officials have made clear that Israel will not permit fresh elections in Palestine — for fear that Hamas will win; and whereas the West probably will continue to bestow Mahmoud Abbas with the trappings of legitimacy after his term in office expires on 9 January 2009, he will enjoy no such legitimacy amongst Palestinians. Indeed the very effort to leverage such spurious legitimacy will discredit him further.
Read the full post at Conflicts Forum