Thursday, January 26, 2006

The brighter side

THE FOCUS of speculation today is how Hamas, the Palestinian group which roots itself in armed resistance to Israel's occupation of Palestine, would behave once it enters the Palestinian cabinet in a coalition agreement with Fatah following the Jan.25 legislative elections.
Opinions are divided. Some believe that Hamas would never change its colours and would only work from within the government to undermine the Fatah leadership's efforts to work out a peace agreement with Israel. Others are convinced that Hamas leaders are pragmatic enough to accept realities and that there is no solution to the conflict except through negotiations with Israel.
Overlooked in the din of arguments and counter-arguments is an equally important aspect of Palestinian life in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. For more than a decade now, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), the de facto Palestinian government, has not really been able to address some of the key preoccupation of the people it governs.
Granted that the choking Israeli siege of the people living under its military occupation could be easily blamed for the daily suffering of the people of Palestine. However, the PNA also bears part of the responsibility, given the abundant evidence of corruption, nepotism and favouritism in the ranks of Fatah. The Fatah-led PNA has not been able to make a real difference to the quality of life of its people. If anything, the lot of the Palestinians under occupation in terms of daily life is worse than it was before the Oslo agreement was signed in September 1993.
That is where the strong showing of Hamas in the Palestinian legislative elections comes into relevance. Its victory could only be partly attributed to the chaos that reigned in the PNA. The other part is the success with which the group had been running schools, schools and social welfare organisations in a systematic and most effective manner within the confinements attached to the situation under occupation.
It clear that Hamas wants to pursue and strengthen its approach to the Palestinian society at large. The group is among the most disciplined and organised movements in Palestine and its commitment and seriousness to addressing the problems of grassroot Palestinians could not be questioned. There is little doubt that Hamas would not only insist on taking over the health, education and social welfare portfolios in the Palestinian cabinet but would also make a success of its endeavours by shouldering the task with responsibility and dedication.
That should indeed be the brightest spot at this point in time for the Palestinian people facing the dark uncertainties of their struggle for freedom and statehood in view of the arrogant and stubborn positions adopted by Israel that holds out only the promise of on-again, off-again negotiations which could be run off the track at any point in time.