by Khaled Abu Toameh
There has been no mention of peace process or coexistence with Israel. The belligerent and defiant tone of Fatah officials sent the message that the Palestinians are now headed toward confrontation with Israel -- not peace.Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders say they are already preparing for the next war with Israel. They say that their groups still have many rockets that will be used against Israel in the future.
As one Hamas official put it, "In the next war with Israel, Israelis will be forced to flee not only their homes, but the whole country."
Fatah is also preparing for a possible confrontation with Israel, both on the ground and in the international arena. Some Fatah leaders are now talking about a new intifada against Israel, especially in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Every step that Israel takes, such as building new housing units in the Jerusalem suburbs, is being viewed by the Fatah leadership as a "war crime" and "act of aggression" on the UN-recognized State of Palestine.
Mahmoud Abbas's top aides in Ramallah are now talking about filing charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court over plans to withhold tax revenues belonging to the Palestinian government and the construction of the new housing units.
The Palestinians feel that for the first time in decades they have succeeded in rallying most of the world against Israel.
The celebrations that took place in the Gaza Strip and West Bank over the past two weeks are the result of the Palestinians' belief that they have defeated Israel twice - first during Operation Pillars of Cloud and, second, at the UN General Assembly, where a majority of countries voted in favor of upgrading their status to Non-Member Observer State.
The Palestinians are convinced that they have managed to defeat the Israelis, both militarily and diplomatically.
Hamas's continuing control over the Gaza Strip, despite the recent Israeli military offensive, is seen as a victory for the Islamist movement as well as for many Palestinians.
Palestinians who took to the streets to celebrate the victory chanted slogans in support of Hamas's rockets and missiles, especially those fired toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Referring to Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin al-Kassam, jubilant Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip chanted, "Oh, Kassam, bomb, bomb Tel Aviv!" and "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!"
They were not celebrating the end of the eight-day military offensive, which led to the death of more than 160 Palestinians.
They were celebrating the fact that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had succeeded in launching rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv; that thousands of Israeli families had to hide in shelters or flee their homes because of the rockets, and that for the first time millions of Israelis were now living within the range of Iranian-supplied and locally made rockets and missiles.
Even Fatah officials and supporters took to the streets to join the Hamas and Islamic Jihad celebrations. Some Fatah leaders traveled to Gaza to congratulate Hamas and Islamic Jihad -- who a few years ago had thrown Fatah members to their deaths off the the tops of buildings and forced them out of Gaza — and to hail their "resistance and steadfastness."
A week later, in the aftermath of the UN General Assembly vote, it was Fatah's turn to claim victory over Israel.
The Fatah celebrations also turned into anti-Israel demonstrations and rallies.
Many Palestinians, after the UN vote, celebrated in Ramallah and other West Bank cities, where they chanted slogans in support of Hamas and the armed struggle. At the rallies, Palestinians, in a unique show of unity, raised the flags of both Hamas and Fatah.
The Fatah celebrations -- which also took place in the Gaza Strip for the first time since 2007 -- were not about the upgrading of the Palestinians' status so much as the feeling that Israel has been humiliated and isolated in the international community.
There has been no mention of the peace process or coexistence with Israel. The belligerent and defiant tone of Fatah officials sent the message that the Palestinians are now headed toward confrontation with Israel -- not peace.
Khaled Abu Toameh
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