Top Fatah official: 'PA won't be able to stop 3rd intifada'

Abbas Zaki says the Palestinians, inspired by Middle East unrest, may launch new intifada on 'Nakba Day' if they have lost hope in peace talks.

By D. E. MILLER, ARIEH O'SULLIVAN/ THE MEDIA
May 12, 2011 13:36
3 minute read.
Fatah official Abbas Zaki

abbas zaki 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The Palestinian leadership won’t be able to contain the street protests planned for this weekend marking the 63rd anniversary of the creation of Israel, said a senior member of Central Committee of the Fatah movement.

Abbas Zaki, whose tasks include monitoring the Arab Spring revolts, told The Media Line that Palestinians have been encouraged by how Arabs across the Middle East have toppled two leaders and threaten others with mass protests. With no peace talks with Israel on the horizon, Zaki warned, the Palestinian leadership will be hard pressed to contain the rage of demonstrators.

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“The Palestinian leadership has faced a dead end and has been unable to advance the many Palestinian issues even a bit. This leadership won’t be able to quiet the street, which has witnessed the success and achievements of the Egyptians and Tunisians. The Palestinian people will react according to its level of hope in a peaceful solution,” Zaki said.

On Sunday, Palestinians will mark the so-called “Nakba,”or "catastrophe" as they refer to the creation of Israel. Israel is looking at the demonstrations planned for the weekend as a test case for the Palestinian security forces.

While "Nakba Day" has been marked for many years, this year’s commemoration and the security forces handling of it will be the first since Fatah has joined the rival Hamas movement in a national unity government. Although the government has yet to be formally constituted, the prospects of Hamas having a say in Palestinian security in the West Bank has raised the hackles of Israeli security officials.

Until now, Fatah, which has been in on-again-off-again peace talks with Israel, has exclusive control of the West Bank while Hamas, an Islamic group sworn to Israel’s destruction, has ruled in the Gaza Strip.

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The Israeli Defense Forces have been put on high alert in the West Bank for the possibility that Palestinian demonstrators could clash with residents of Jewish communities, security sources said. 

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz visited troops on Wednesday and briefed commanders on possible scenarios, including extreme violence, despite word from Palestinian security forces that they will be aiming at keeping tensions low, the IDF spokesman said in a statement.

“The IDF estimates that events on the ground could lead to violence, even if no side is interested in such a scenario,” the statement said.

Col. Avi Gil, commander of the Ephraim Brigade, instructed his troops to be on high alert and increase their vigilance. "We are preparing for the possibility of a Third Intifada or any other extreme scenario on 'Nakba Day'," he told Army Radio. "We are conducting situational assessments and preparing.”

Israeli security sources told The Media Line that the recent reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas could lead to outlawed Hamas members participating in Palestinian security forces. This could lead to a rupture in the cooperation currently underway between the IDF and the Palestinians in the West Bank.

Zaki, who played a key role in the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, insisted that the interim Palestinian government to be formed would not jeopardize agreements already reached with Israel.

“The new government will be totally committed to previous agreements signed with Israel. It is the government of Mahmoud Abbas who has expressed more than once his commitment to the [Israeli] partner, if he still exists,” Zaki said.

“The Palestinian people should unite to face Israeli occupation which is the most threatening to Palestinians, and put aside marginal quarrels,” he said.

Israel, which has worked hard to see the world recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization for carrying out suicide bombings and rocket attacks, is adamant that the inclusion of Hamas renders the new Palestinian government ineligible for international support. Israel Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said he was freezing the transfer of some $88 million in tax money to the PA.

On Wednesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad adopted a belligerent tone when he called on the public to “mobilize” against Israel for the step. 

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