ABBAS CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS
In a fiery and lengthy speech broadcast nationwide that was at sharp contrast with Haniya's more conciatory talk last night, Mahmud Abbas has called for unspecificed early presidential and parliamentary elections in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
Abbas spoke for more than 1 1/2 hours, hurling verbal insult after insult at Hamas and at unnamed figures abroad "who dont' dirty their feet on our soil", a jab at Khaled Meshal.
But througout the speech, it was not clear that Abbas would come outright and call for new elections. He merely stated in the beginning that it was his legitimate right to do. The whammy of the an announcement came as the final sentence of his speech, to which those in attendence jumped to their feet amdist thunderous applause. Outisde, Fateh supporters shot gunfire in celebration and honked their horns.
Abbas began by explaining the reasons why he believes a unity government has not been formed and why he said in a press conference with Sec. of State Rice that the road to national dialogue has been closed.
Abbas went on to talk about how the firing of rockets has hindered foreign investments in Gaza, saying "there were high hopes that the land freed of settlements would flourish with investements, but because we insist on firing rockets this has not happened".
"They continue to fire them till this very second, despite first and second and third truces."
The ironic thing is, Abbas's talk was riddled with contradictions. He condemns the actions (firing rockets, attacks against Israel) of the very people he later praises as heros languishing in Israeli jails-Marwan Barghouthi and Ahmed Saadat and their likes. He also made no mention of the fact that the ones who continue to fire rockets are his own al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
Abbas went on to accuse the government of prolonging the siege, and blamed the capture of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for the death of some 500 Palestinians and injurey of more than 5000 at the hands of the Israeli Army since this summer.
He also categorically denied any "conspiracy" to assasinate Ismail Haniya, saying the very people Hamas accuses of being "conspirtors" are the ones who helped facilitate his his arrival and departure.
Abbas criticized the throngs of Hamas supporters who welcomed Haniya "with machine guns and RPGs, instead of bouquets of roses".
He said the Rafah Crossing was operating smoothly, "and people could get through within minutes" and it was the Hamas supporters who destroyed it two days ago. OK-I don't know what crossing Abbas has been using, but the one I just crossed over DID NOT TAKE a few minutes, and it certaintly was not under Palestinian control, and never has been.
The interesting thing, Abbas focussed his energy on attacking and tearing apart Hamas and its government, blaming them for everything from the state of siege and hunger we are in, to the death of hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli attacks this summer, to the closure of the Rafah Crossing. He ignored completely the fact that Gaza's imprisonment and isolation began LONG before Hamas was elected into power, something verified by the UN's OCHA Itself.
In a verbal jab against Meshal, Abbas said “he who talks about the illegitimacy of the executive power of the PLO is the very one who is protected by it in the outside. He talks from afar, in comfort, without dirtiing his shoes in the soil of our land.”
Many people consider the PLO an aging, defunct body that need to be either dissolved or reformed, including independents like Mustpha Barghouthi. So I don't really see Hamas's objections as entirely outrageous.
Abbas went on to talk about what he called the contradictions in Hamas's positions, and view about him.
"How can we have winter and summer under one sun? I don’t’ understand. Once hour I am a hero, another hour spy? Come on, we all know it takes longer than one hour to become a spy."
“It’s my right to dissolve the government, and I can do it whenever I please. Hamas does no scare us when they say it’s a precursor for a civil war. It’s my constitutional right" Abbas said early on.
The other interesting thing is that it seems Abbas, or Abu Mazen, has assumed the role that he once condemned in Arafat: the entire reason the role of Prime Minister was created in the first place early 2000 (at the prodding of the US) was to serve as a counter-balance to the absolute authority of Arafat. Abu Mazen served as Prime Minister for a while before resigning in protest because he felt he could not properly carry out his job and the President continued to exercise ultimate authority. Interesting how the tide turns...