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Jun 02, 2011 at 12:58 AM

The Canada Palestine Support Network (Canpalnet) is offering the following information "bundle" for your consideration on the important topic of the recent accord reached between the Hamas and Fatah political organizations in Palestine and the international response generated by this development.

I.  The Accord Itself
II.  Commentaries and analysis of the accord.
III.  The Context - The democratic revolutions in Egypt and elsewhere and the changes in Egyptian foreign policy
IV.  Reaction in Israel and the U.S.

I.  Firstly, here is a link to a copy of the agreement itself, as presented by the Palestine Monitor website: II.  Below are some commentaries on the accord which try to analyze it's significance for developments in the struggle.
  • How did it come about that the two rival organizations were able to reach a cooperation pact at this time?
  • What effect will it have on the struggle for Palestinian rights and what will be the response from Israel and the US?
The following interview with professor Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University sheds some fascinating light on these issues.  He makes it clear that the development of the "Arab Spring", the series of uprisings and victories in the struggle for democracy in the Arab world, was an essential precondition for this accord to be developed and particularly for Egypt to play the positive role it did in helping to broker the accord. He also analyzes Hamas' deteriorating relationship with the besieged Syrian government because of their refusal to roundly condemn the democratic movements for change in that country as well as the increasing unpopularity of Hamas in Gaza and of Fatah in the West Bank because of widely-held perceptions amongst Palestinians living there that both organizations were serving their own organizational agendas and not delivering on any real advances for Palestinian unity or prospects for a just and peaceful settlement. He is guardedly optimistic about the accord and sees it as a positive development which will be strongly resisted by Israel and the US.  

Respected commentator Ali Abunimah, editor of the online "Electronic Intifada", is more skeptical about the accord, seeing it as a major concession by Hamas to participate in a failed "peace process" with the corrupt and collaborationist Fatah without seeking or obtaining any real concessions from Fatah in changing its approach to the conflict.  He is skeptical of the leadership capacities of either organization and points to the international campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as being the key to moving the struggle forward.  Whether you end up agreeing or disagreeing with Ali Abunimah on these points, the following article is a well-written and carefully argued analysis and definitely worth reading:

The following article by Tony Karon on the Time Magazine website is thoughtfully written and offers a look at some of the immediate actions and implications of the specific agreements reached in the accord immediate implications of the accord might be and how various players in the conflict can be expected to respond:  

III.  What effect has the  "Arab Spring", the rising tide of democratic revolutions in the Arab world, and particularly, in Egypt, had upon the politics of the Israel/Palestine conflict?

The well-respected journalist and activist Jonathon Cook has written specifically about the changing relationship between Egypt and Israel,  which bears directly on the current context of the accord's development in this interesting piece below.  In it he analyzes the pressure faced by the new Egyptian government to respond to popular sentiment critical of the role played by the deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak's government in collaborating with Israel and the US in maintaining the siege of Gaza and being the chief Arab backer of the Abbas faction in Palestine and strongly opposing Hamas at every turn:

The Real News video interview with Professor Samer Shehata of Georgetown University below gives a broader and more detailed view of changes in Egyptian foreign policy, including an analysis of the role played by Hosni Mubarak's government as an effective ally of Israel and what is now changing in that regard:

IV.  There has been an immediate and intense response to the agreement in Israel and the United States. 

The following article by Michael Warshawski of the Alternative Information Center characterizes the response of the Netanyahu government and other sectors of the Israeli establishment as one of  "panic".

Initial reaction in the US Congress and the Obama administration appeared to echo Netanyahu's response, with the predictable denunciation of Hamas as a "terrorist group" and the continued prospect of opposing any kind of negotiations with any unity government which includes Hamas.  The article by M.J. Rosenberg in Al Jazeera below analyzes the responses in the halls of power in the US and puts it in the context of the recent history of  US kowtowing to Israeli demands, even at the expense of US national interests:

However, Obama's recent public address where he seems to open the possibility of negotiations with a unity government and emphasizes the 1967 borders as a basis of settlement for a two-state solution, clearly has angered the Netanyahu government in Israel and some Israeli supporters in the US.  Obama also re-iterated criticisms of Hamas for "refusing to recognize Israel's existence" and strong administration support for Israel as a "Jewish state" and the "homeland of the Jewish people", making it clear that the continued denial of the right-of-return for Palestinians will remain US policy. 

What is different and what is the same in the Obama administration's current approach?  This Real News interview of Omar Barghoui, Palestinian leader of the international campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, see nothing of any positive significance for Palestinians in Obama's recent pronouncements, but merely a continuation of the US role as a biased and self-serving interloper in the region:

Real News also did a recent interview with longtime American commentator and supporter of Palestinian rights Phyllis Benning, who sees Obamas pronouncements as essentially continuing existing one-sided US support for Israel but also containing the possibility of supporting negotiations between Israel and a unity government:

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Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians slams Canadian Jewish Congress exclusion

PRESS  RELEASE          For immediate Release            2007-07-03
The Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians responded today, to the decision by the Canadian Jewish Congress to deny membership to the progressive Jewish group. The CJC issued a letter which gave no reason for its decision.

“The decision by the Canadian Jewish Congress to exclude the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians illustrates the sectarian orientation of the forces controlling that organization,” declared ACJC Administrative Secretary Abraham Weizfeld. “The rejection of our application to become a member of the Canadian Jewish Congress and the refusal seat our delegates at the CJC Plenary on June 17th amounts to a refusal to acknowledge growing Jewish opposition to the Israeli occupation and siege of the Palestinian territories.”

“CJC’s refusal to include all tendencies in the Jewish community should be seen as a futile attempt to marginalize growing Jewish opposition to Israel’s behaviour and to the exclusive character of the Israel State,” Weizfeld continued.

 He contended that this refusal also motivated the decision by the June 17 plenary of the Canadian Jewish Congress to annul the process of conducting elections to the Board of Directors. As a result of this decision, the Board will now have 25% of its seats reserved for the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy which controls the CJC funding agency, the United Jewish Appeal. Weizfeld explained that these organizations provide unquestioning support to Israel, regardless of what it does.

The resulting vote on a resolution to amend the CJC constitution with regard to election of officers may not have passed if the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians’ delegates had been included.

“We do not share in the uncritical support for Israel,” Weizfeld stated. “It is our position that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, which began in 1967, must end immediately. This is the view that the ACJC wanted to bring to the Canadian Jewish Congress and that the CJC leadership was determined to ignore.” The refusal to hear our independent voice is proof that the CJC is not a body representative of diverse currents in Canada's Jewish population.

“It is essential that Israel and the Palestinians – including the duly elected Prime Minister Haniyeh – begin negotiations to conclude a lasting peace without prior conditions from either side. Only this approach can put an end to this ongoing tragedy for both the Palestinian and Israeli communities,” he concluded.

Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians
Alliance de Canadien/nes juif/ves concerné/es
68, av. Duluth est
Montréal QC H2W 1G8 Canada
(514) 284-6642


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