Friday, August 31, 2007

Washington's role in the West Bank

Congress last week approved $80 million of US funds to train and equip five brigades to be under the control of the Abbas administration in the West Bank, pursuant to the Dayton Plan, under the direction of US general Keith Dayton, Haaretz reported yesterday. I don't recall reading in the American media any report of any debate about that congressional action, or any followup discussion for that matter. Which isn't surprising, because the leaked document that first laid out the Dayton Plan in detail, hasn't been a big topic of discussion anywhere in the English language media either.

However, the Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar does take note of the development, and puts it in the context of the escalating Fatah-Hamas tensions. The journalist writes:
The question of Palestinian control of the West Bank has become a responsibility of Washington, which is making plans for the establishment of five Palestinian battalions for deployment throughout the West Bank, and this comes at a time when Hamas is accusing the caretaker government headed by Salam Fayyad of coordinating with Israel in the closure of over 100 charitable organizations, targeting thereby the social arm of the movement (Hamas).
It's worth recalling that under "Objectives" in the original Dayton Plan outline, the aims included this: "Delivering a strong political blow to Hamas by supplying the Palestinian people with their immediate economic needs through the Presidency and Fatah..." The move to shut Hamas-affiliated social-assistance groups is a corollary of that, and what the Al-Akhbar reporter is doing with is calling attention to what you could call the coherence of the Dayton Plan: Shifting the balance militarily to the faction friendly to America and the Israeli occupation, while at the same time shifting the balance in terms of "supplying the Palestinian people with their immediate economic needs..." and it is clear that the corollary of that is shutting down social-aid groups that are affiliated with Hamas. The closure orders, based on a June decree by Abbas requiring all organizations to apply to him for re-registration, are discussed in detail here. What is important for Americans to understand is that the closure of Hamas-affiliated voluntary organizations is tantamount to an attack on Palestinian civil society, and that this is part and parcel of the plan that also includes military aid for the Abbas-Fayyad "government".

The military part of which, the Israeli paper Haaretz tells us, was approved by Congress last week. Didn't know that, did you?


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