Monday, January 24, 2005
A few excerpts:
So far, although he has only been in power for a matter of days, many Gazans are already losing hope that he will make things any better for them, given the reality on the ground. "How can we hope for any improvement in our situation, with or without Abu Mazen? How will he succeed where Abu Ammar [Yasser Arafat] failed?" Soha, a student from Gaza City, told the Weekly. "No, I don't think things will get any better. I don't think a man like him can stop Israeli incursions, or make our economy -- which is dependent on the checkpoints being open -- improve. Not if his predecessor couldn't."
Others understand that Abu Mazen was, internationally, the favoured candidate, "but now look at what is happening. We all thought things would get better, because Israel, the US and the European Union all wanted him in. In fact, that's why many of us voted for him in the first place, because we thought that he would bring us peace," Amjad, an Islamic youth leader, told the Weekly. "But the Israelis haven't relented after all on their attacks, and what I know for certain is that Abu Mazen is not strong enough to withstand their pressure and make true the demands of the Palestinian people. He has no bargaining power, and he has no personal power. He is in no position to help us now."
"The incursions have been constant and scattered throughout Gaza, and now Abu Mazen is here to ask the militias to stop attacking the settlements? It's an impossible situation for him diplomatically, and for us practically."
"After all those years," said Gazan reporter Mohamed in the city centre, "after all that insistence by the US and Israel that there was no Palestinian partner for peace, we've finally got one. Now, however, it seems there is no Israeli partner." And after all, in Middle Eastern politics, as Amjad said, "it's Israel, not any Palestinian leader, that calls the shots."