Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Palestine Political Update: Under Israeli Siege

In a recent series of posts, I presented a scenario analysis for the future of Palestine. The graphic to the right summarizes some key events in Palestine from Hamas' historic 2006 election victory until the spring fighting between Hamas and Fatah split Palestine. Events have been moving so quickly that in the few weeks since then, it has already become possible to begin assessing developments. Recent events suggest further movement toward either the "Clash of Civilizations" or "Persian Empire" scenarios.
Since Hamas took control of Gaza, the following events have occurred in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute:

  • Israel has moved forward on new illegal settlements in the West Bank.

  • large numbers of Palestinian local and parliamentary officials have been arrested by Israel and jailed—so far without trial (39 of 74 Hamas representatives in the Palestinian parliament elected last January).

  • 0.025% of Palestinians jailed in Israel (before the recent round of arrests) were released.

  • Abbas declared a 30-day emergency government on June 15.

  • On June 27 and July 1 and July 7 Israel launched attacks on Gaza, sometimes with tanks and helicopter gunships.

  • On July 11 Abbas convened parliament (without the jailed legislators being able to attend) and Hamas boycotted, leaving Abbas to govern by emergency cabinet.

  • A Palestinian fired at an Israeli checkpoint in Palestinian territory, after which Israeli soldiers fired "randomly" at Palestinians lined up to cross the border, according to a press report.

  • On July 14 Abbas appointed a new government, which Hamas rejected.

  • Israel violently took control over the defunct Gaza airport.

If Palestinian-Israeli events are analyzed in terms of the degree of justice and the degree of Palestinian unification, as originally done in the Palestinian Futures series in this blog, the political scene appears to be moving distinctly away from justice and away from unification, judging from these events. The graphic below updates the evidence with the key events up to mid-July.

Events are of course only one type of evidence of where things stand. Trends, among which the economic warfare by Israel against Gaza and the Israeli refusal to allow stranded Palestinians to return to Gaza, are more significant but harder to spot; there are undoubtedly many more now beneath the surface. Even more difficult to perceive as they unfold are the underlying dynamics, e.g., changes in popular attitudes or international realignments. We shall see if the initial impression given by events is borne out as other evidence becomes visible.

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