Yvonne Ridley - Not One Cent for Gaza
Watch Yvonne Ridley's Show THE AGENDA on PressTV HERE
It seems the Palestinian leader is overseeing the brutal siege of his own people in Gaza without a care or thought for them.
09/09/08 -- - JUST when you think the Zionist leaders have peaked in arrogance and the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has peaked in ignorance, a new scheme comes along that is almost beyond belief, prompting me to wonder if they are all taking crack cocaine.
Apparently Defence Minister Ehud Barak and the Pharonic Mubarak opened serious discussions about the deployment of an Arab force in the Gaza Strip consisting largely of Egyptian and some Saudi troops.
Apparently the two said they would eventually like to expand the deployment of Arab and international forces to the West Bank as well, with those troops consisting largely of Jordanian forces, according to the Israeli plan.
The reason for this nonsense? Well I believe it is because Hamas, the democratically elected government (certainly in Gaza) is doing such a good job of maintaining law and order and are growing in popularity with ordinary Palestinians that their continued rise is viewed as a huge threat ... not just to the Zionist interlopers but to the rest of the leadership in the Arab world.
Gaza is the world's largest open air prison and its infrastructure, emergency services and day to day operations have been crippled by the brutal Israeli-led siege.
Yet despite this, Hamas - since it kicked out the corrupt Fatah fat cats last year - has managed to try and hold things together for its 1.5m citizens on the Gaza Strip.
They are living a hand-to-mouth existence and innocent men, women and children are dying in this collective punishment because they are being denied vital medicines and access to the outside world, but their support of Hamas is growing by the day. I've seen it with my own eyes and so, unlike most of the outside politicians including the Quartet's Peace Envoy Tony Blair, I am coming from a point of knowledge.
I, along with more than 40 other international peace activists, went to Gaza recently by boat to smash the seaborne part of the siege, and we saw for ourselves the dreadful situation imposed on the Gazans.
But I was also able to wander and move around freely and discovered Gaza to be among one of the safest cities in the world ... certainly much more safe than the streets of London or New York. Crime is down more than 80 per cent since Hamas police took over - the statistics are available.
One day myself and film-maker Aki Nawaz wandered down on to the beach and took part in a lively, political discussion with ordinary Palestinians ... and some of them made it clear they did not like or support Hamas. But what we did was taken part in a full and frank discussion and such freedoms of speech are not allowed or encouraged in the rest of the Arab world.
The fact is, there is so much irrational hatred for Hamas from Israel, America and Europe that the politicians just refuse to accept the truth and the truth is the majority of Gazans love and support Hamas.
And here's why. The Hamas leadership and members are suffering just as much as the ordinary citizens of Gaza. They endure the hardship of the siege, they have their power supplies cut off, they have to put up with Israel switching off the tap water when it chooses. They, too are suffering and the people can see this with their own eyes.
It really does appear as if the Hamas leadership can not be bought or corrupted.
Millions of dollars and Euros are pouring in to the Palestinian Authority's coffers controlled by Abu Mazen and NOT ONE CENT reaches the people of Gaza. Sadly, it seems the Palestinian leader is overseeing the brutal siege of his own people in Gaza without a care or thought for them.
I've previously met both Abu Mazen and Yassir Arafat and I can tell you the former is a pale imitation of the latter. Arafat suffered daily alongside his own people and I witnessed firsthand when I went to his HQ in Ramallah in 2003.
The only financial interest Abu Mazen has in Gaza is his own obscenely luxurious Hollywood villa which nestles in uneasy splendour next to crumbling homes, ghettoes and poverty. You would think that the ordinary Gazans would want to tear down this luxurious home brick by brick but they can't ... it is being guarded and protected by Hamas!
Abu Mazen should hang his head in shame. He won't even pick up the phone to the Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh who told me, in a private meeting earlier this month, that he has attempted several times to open talks with Abu Mazen who sits in his luxurious bolt hole on the West Bank (actually, I'm told he has several homes but like US Presidential hopeful John McMain can't be too sure of the exact number!)
The reality is if democratic elections were held in the Middle East tomorrow, Hamas would be swept to victory wherever candidates stood.
So now you know why Israel and its Arab subordinates want to send an army in to Gaza - they are terrified that the charisma and leadership of Hamas might start to spread in the region, and that wouldn't do, would it?
Oh, and by the way, no one has officially consulted the Saudis yet - but when Israel says jump the Riyadh response is: "How high?" So don't expect any resistance from them.
And the other reason why Israel wants to bring in Arab forces, is that they might just act as a buffer or protection zone for the Zionist Army which prefers to use its weapons on women and children but is quaking at the prospect of a real ruck with the Hamas military.
Israel is still smarting after its defeat at the hands of Hizb'Allah's soldiers in Lebanon and its military really couldn't face another spanking at the hands of Hamas troops if the current truce falters.
There is an easy solution to all of this - Israel should lift the siege and sit down for talks with Hamas - Ismael Haniyeh told me he is ready and waiting.
Yvonne Ridley and Indy film-maker Aki Nawaz are making a documentary for Press TV about the boat journey of the Free Gaza Movement and what they found when they arrived on the Gaza Strip.