London (GPA) – Academic, writer for Middle East Eye, Middle East Monitor, Arab Weekly, and TRT World, and member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) Executive Committee Professor Kamel Hawwash talks about the future of Israel in relation to Palestine, Lebanon, and the Gulf monarchies.
Geopolitics Alert Contributor Damir Nazarov: In your opinion, in what ways did the rule of Hamas in Gaza exhaust itself and what are the most necessary changes that need to take place?
Kamel Hawwash: What is important for Palestinians is unity in the face of American and Israeli attempts to deny them their rights on a permanent basis. Following many attempts at reconciliation and the deteriorating situation, both politically and on the ground, the time has come for Fatah and Hamas to put their significant differences aside and unite in the face of these threats.
D.N.: In your opinion, what is stopping opposition forces inside Fatah from weakening the longstanding dictatorship of Abbas?
K.H.: Palestinians want to see democracy enacted through presidential and Legislative Council elections. They also want to see the Palestinian democratic institutions reformed. This applies particularly to the Palestine National Council and the PLO, which are badly in need of reform. Both the division and the occupation have made it difficult for free and fair elections to take place.
D.N.: In the future, should we expect new attempts by Israel to attack Hezbollah? And could such a scenario potentially lead to a wider conflict?
K.H.: Israel continues to threaten its neighbours and Lebanon is no exception. This also applies to Syria. The US standoff with Iran adds to the tensions, and it is, therefore, possible for a wider conflict to start if the US attacks Iran.
D.N.: We are witnessing a parade of talks on “normalization of relations” between Israel and the Gulf countries. What makes the leaders of the Arabian Peninsula so keen to openly “make friends” with Israel?
K.H.: What Israel and the American Administration have attempted and to a certain extent succeeded in doing is to divert the Gulf States attention from the Arab Israeli conflict to what they sell them as the Iranian threat. They somehow believe that they are in the same ditch as Israel in looking for ways to combat that threat. It appears that this could be at the expense of the Palestinians as they try to push them to accept Trump’s ‘peace plan’ which will negate their rights.
D.N.: You are perhaps aware of such cases when, under pressure from the pro-Israel lobby, UN postponed the publication of reports on companies conducting illegal activities with Israel in the West Bank, spying on BDS activists by the Mossad and the like. Could this indicate that Israel feels its strength and acts more boldly? Or is there some kind of conspiracy against international Palestinian support?
K.H.: There is no doubt that Israel has been emboldened by the Trump Administration to continue with its illegal policies and practices. It tries to present itself as the victim when it is the aggressor, oppressor and illegal occupier. It has focussed on the BDS movement because it is increasingly effective and it worries about its escalation. It is a legitimate and peaceful means of pressuring a state which operates above the law. It has fought hard to stop the publication of the database but for the sake of justice and to help end the illegal settlement enterprise, the database should be published.
Damir Nazarov is a contributor for Geopolitics Alert based in Moscow, Russia.