The Mecca Charity Show

Powerful analysis from Roni Ben Efrat reprinted from CHALLENGE magazine.

Here, once again, Hamas reveals a characteristic lack of consistency. We saw this first a year ago, when it chose to take part in elections that were based on an infrastructure provided by the Oslo Accords. It accepted the Oslo framework without the content. Now it deepens its entrapment by entering a unity government, hoping to gain Western funds without accepting Western conditions. Saudi Arabia has won a brief span of glory, but what about the Palestinian people?

Certainly, there’s no question as to the horror of the bloody scenes we witnessed between Fatah and Hamas. They occurred in utter opposition to the popular will. The Palestinian street rejoiced sincerely over the Mecca Agreement.

The problem, however, is: unity for the sake of what? The Oslo Accords did not establish the basis for a true Palestinian state, rather the mold for a state dependent on handouts: a donations state, which would serve Western and Israeli interests. From the beginning, the donations were intended to finance a political entity composed of corruptible, docile elitists like those in other Arab regimes. The Palestinian Authority, under Fatah leadership, wasted a whole decade without establishing an infrastructure and without creating real jobs. It purchased quiet by handing out cash in paper bags to the workers of a bloated public sector.

The election of Hamas did not bring a change of direction. Even if we acknowledge that the movement is not corrupt, it offered no alternative to the donations state. On the contrary, the notion of charity rather than work is a principle of the Hamas movement. Now this notion has become the basis of the entire unity government. Unless the latter can thaw Western coffers, the streets will again erupt.

Roni Ben Efrat, The Mecca Charity Show, electronicintifada.net

On Saudi diplomacy, see also this podcast from On Point with Tom Ashbrook.

On Point, The New Saudi Pushback, wbur.org (mp3)

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