The political storm that swept across the country this week obscured the huge dramas that are continuing to roll across the Middle East. The Arab Spring refuses to end. This week, too, the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad continued to kill civilians and opposition activists who are trying to drive out the regime. In Egypt, preparations for the presidential election, which will take place on May 23 and 24 (with a possible run-off in June) are at their height. At the same time, many fear that the Supreme Military Council will try to postpone the elections at the last minute. Amid all the unrest, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are emerging as islands of political and security stability. The question, of course, is how long that situation will last.
Next week, on May 14, the Palestinians will mark Nakba Day, recalling what they refer to as the “catastrophe” of 1948: Israel’s establishment and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land. The day’s events will dovetail with the ongoing hunger strike of about 2,000 security prisoners in Israeli jails - which could make for a volatile mix. Still, this week the leaders of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority worked hard to ensure that the demonstrations will be confined to the Palestinian cities of the West Bank and will not assume a violent character. Even the tournament that Jibril Rajoub, president of the Palestinian Football Association, is planning for Nakba Day will be held in West Bank cities.
“My legacy? I have one thing, security,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday in an interview with Reuters. “Ask anyone if we are going to the third intifada. They will say no, they want peace. That has never happened before. People realized that through peaceful means we can achieve our goals.”
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