I have been trying to reach my friend J for several days but with no luck. Today I was finally able to reach him. The first words out of his mouth were: “I am sick of this life, this work. It gets dirtier every day. I have been living in my office for the past two weeks. I haven’t seen my kids and all I’m doing is chasing Hamas guys for Fatah, and now in the strangest circumstances Fatah and Hamas are plotting together. Can you believe this shit?”
J is a senior intelligence official in the Palestinian Authority (PA). He spent several years in the PA intelligence service and worked hard to help set up its various security apparatuses. He has asked that his name be kept out of this report but insisted that the world must know of these dealings between Hamas and Fatah.
I am a believer in Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s work, and I always try to follow it based on information from people who are on the ground in Palestine. Fayyad is a political independent and former World Bank economist who has spearheaded anti-corruption and civil infrastructure projects. Fayyad works in the West Bank with Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas, while Hamas has governed Gaza since 2007.
So I asked J about Fayyad, what is happening to him? Is he gaining support and popularity? Do you think Fatah will ever adopt him and let him run for president?
And his answer came to me as a shock: “Hamas and Fatah agree only on one thing: getting rid of Fayyad by hook or crook. They will kill him if need be, and this is the only issue they work on together. Fatah wants the Ministry of Finance, and Fayyad refuses and threatens to resign every time they bring this up.”
I guess this shouldn’t have been so shocking. When the Abbas delegation was in DC in June of this year, I was present when Abbas’ advisor Yaser Abed Rabbo told George Mitchell’s deputy and assistant secretary of State for near eastern affairs, Jeffrey Feltman: “Abbas and Fayyad, no problem. Fayyad and Fatah, different story.”
I asked J if Fayyad knows about this cooperation. J said, “No, Fayyad thinks he commands the loyalty of the security apparatuses, but he doesn’t. They are all waiting for the day to kick him out. Unless he can reform the senior echelon of the security apparatus, he will remain weak. No one has loyalty to him.”
This is a dangerous sign – the fact that Fatah and Hamas could disagree on every national agenda item but agree on the elimination of Fayyad is sinister and telling. If Palestine is to be established as a legitimate state, dirty backroom dealings to squeeze out an inflexible political element must come to an end.
Democracy is what the Palestinian people want, and unless the political parties in Palestine embrace democratic practices among themselves, it will be a long time before Palestine will be able to see itself as a democratic nation.