The rival Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have clamped down harder on opponents and critics in recent months — deepening a nasty split that could prevent Palestinian statehood even if peace talks with Israel kicking off this week succeed against long odds.I've published lists of the "elephants in the room" - issues that make peace impossible yet are not being addressed by the sacred "peace process."
New reports by Palestinian rights groups highlight a surprising symmetry in the abuse that the U.S.-backed government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and his Iranian-supported rivals Hamas in Gaza inflict on each other.
Both governments carry out arbitrary arrests, ban rivals from travel, exclude them from civil service jobs and suppress opposition media, the rights groups say. Torture in both West Bank and Gaza lockups includes beatings and tying up detainees in painful positions.
Hamas and Abbas' Fatah organization have harassed each other ever since the Islamic militant Hamas seized Gaza in 2007. However, the crackdowns have become more sweeping in recent months as each aims to strengthen its grip on its respective territory.
The talks aim to create a Palestinian state, but it appears unlikely any deal could be implemented as long as the split persists, particularly if Hamas — shunned by Israel and the West as a terror organization — remains in charge in Gaza.
Number one has always been the fact that Hamas controls Gaza, representing nearly 40% of the Palestinian Arab population. The Hamas/Fatah split has only solidified over the years, and the formerly constant Arab headlines of an imminent agreement have all but disappeared. Yet no agreement can ignore Gaza, even the most anti-Hamas member of Fatah would not support a state without Gaza. The PA continues to pour more than half its budget into the Gaza black hole where their money indirectly supports Hamas but where they can pretend that they still have influence there. (Some Israeli right-wingers base their new support of a one-state solution on the idea that Jews have a semi-comfortable majority in Israel and the West Bank, excluding Gaza.)
Furthermore, it is ironic that the enlightened, moderate, democratic PA employs methods against Hamas that would enrage the world if Israel would employ those exact same methods. As far as I can tell, no nation has threatened to withhold PA cash on the condition that it starts to treat its potential terrorists with more respect for human rights.Just another double-standard to add to the ever-growing list.
(h/t Backspin, which has another angle as well.)