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Pam Bailey and Mahmoud Alnaouq

Gaza protesters: Palestine and Venezuela in 'one trench'

Gazans protest against US-backed regime change in Venezuela [Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine]

Date of publication: 20 February, 2019

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Comment: Venezuelans and Palestinians share a common struggle in their resistance to US imperialism, write Pam Bailey and Mahmoud Alnaouq.
As the international community divides over who to back as the leader of Venezuela - President Nicolas Maduro or opposition legislator Juan Guaido, who has declared himself the rightful head of government - the Palestinians of Gaza see an unsettling similarity to their own history.

And as a result, they know who they side with, and against.

"There is a similarity between the Palestinian people and the Venezuelan people," observed Nisreen Abu Amra, a member of Gaza's Central Committee for the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). "We are in the same trench, facing a reactionary, imperialist conspiracy led by the United States of America and Israel."

Abu Amra was among the participants at a demonstration held in Gaza City to send a message of solidarity with those in Venezuela who oppose the US-supported regime change. The rally took place in the front of the UN headquarters in Gaza City.

Palestinian and Venezuelan flags were raised, along with photos of Maduro and posters condemning the US intervention.

"The same powers that are tampering in the internal affairs of Venezuela interfere with ours," agreed Ahmed Abu Halima, another participant in the DFLP protest.

Talal Abu Zarifa, member of the DFL's Political Office, called on the United Nations to take a firm stance to stop US intervention.

The majority of Gaza Palestinians do not support America's insistence on Abbas as their leader

Indeed, it's no wonder Palestinians in Gaza call for solidarity with Venezuela's elected president and against a coup - no matter how imperfect Maduro is. The parallels with Palestine, and specifically Gaza, are striking:

Venezuela: The Wall Street Journal reports that the night before Juan Guaido declared himself interim president of Venezuela, he received a phone call from US Vice President Mike Pence.

The American official pledged the United States would back Guaido if he seized the reins of government from Maduro, and even instructed the until-then-little-known politician to invoke a particular clause in his country's constitution.

Although the UN is calling for negotiations between all parties, US administration officials say they will support those only if they are to "
negotiate (Maduro's) exit strategy."

Palestine: After the Hamas movement won a majority of seats in Palestine's legislative body in 2006, some international diplomatic experts favoured engaging with the party to determine if an accommodation was possible.

'Only 35 percent of Venezuelans support foreign intervention' [Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine]

But instead, the US representatives, supported by their European allies, forbade President Mahmoud Abbas from working with Hamas to form a unified government, threatening to cut off all aid if he did. In fact, within just a few months of the election, US Secretary Condoleeza Rice pushed Abbas to dissolve the new government.

It didn't get much media coverage, but Tony Blair - then prime minister of the UK - admitted in 2017 that "we should have, right at the very beginning, tried to pull [Hamas] into a dialogue." Yet today, the UK has joined the United States in once again opposing negotiations.

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Venezuela: McClatchy News reports that a US-owned plane loaded with arms flew from Miami into Valencia, Venezuela's third-largest city, nearly 40 times since 11 January, the day after Maduro was sworn in to a second term.

It is no surprise that Guaido now is in the process of restoring ties with Israel

The Boeing 767 is owned by a company called 21 Air based in Greensboro, North Carolina. While no definitive links between 21 Air and the US government have been established, McClatchy reports the chairman of 21 Air has ties to a company involved in the CIA's rendition programme.

Palestine: The American government armed a leader in Abbas' party (Mahmoud Dahlan) and sent him and his forces into Gaza for what it hoped would be an overthrow of Hamas. Dahlan worked closely with the FBI and the CIA and developed a warm relationship with Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet.

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Venezuela: Leading the charge against Maduro for Trump is his new special envoy, right-wing ideologue Elliott Abrams. He was found guilty for lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal and also is linked to the 2002 coup in Venezuela that attempted to topple Hugo Chavez. And…

Palestine: Leading the initiative to arm and train Dahlan's forces so they could remove Hamas from government was none other than, you guessed it, the same Elliott Abrams.

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Venezuela: Greivances against Maduro are serious and widespread, but that does not translate into a desire for his forced removal. One recent survey found that only 35 percent of Venezuelans support foreign intervention; more than half instead support renewed dialogue with Maduro or his negotiated removal.  

Palestine: International sanctions designed to unseat Hamas have resulted in collective punishment of Gaza's 2 million people.

However, while complaints against Hamas - like those about Maduro - are widespread and serious, repeated polls show the 
majority of Gaza Palestinians do not support America's insistence on Abbas as their leader due to his willingness to cooperate with Israel, to the extent that he even polices his own people on Israel's behalf.

As American investigative journalist Allan Nairn commented on the radio programme Democracy Now, "In both situations (Venezuela and Palestine), the US has no standing to be a mediator, a disinterested third party.

"The US is on one side. They're on the side of the right-wing and the rich in Venezuela, who are trying to topple this government.

"It's the same with Israel-Palestine. The US has claimed for years to be an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians, when, in fact, everyone knows the US is on the side of the Israelis and against the aspirations of the Palestinians to have their legal rights under international law enforced and to regain their political sovereignty."

Given these strong parallels between Venezuela and Palestine, it is no surprise that Guaido now is in the process of restoring ties with Israel, which had been severed a decade ago by Chavez. Guaido also announced he may open the new Venezuelan Embassy in Jerusalem, following the lead of the United States.

All the oppressed are under the thumb of the United States - Abdul Sattar Qassem

Abdul Sattar Qassem, professor of political science at Gaza's An-Najah National University, observes that under Chavez and Maduro,

"Venezuela has stood with the Palestinian cause and with all other oppressed people in the world. And all the oppressed are under the thumb of the United States. The US has many reasons for intervening in Venezuela - including installing a leader it can control. The American government always says we must uphold international law, but they are the biggest phonies."

Pam Bailey is international secretary for the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and founder/director of We Are Not Numbers, a storytelling project for refugee youth.

Follow her on Twitter: @WeAreNotNumbers and @PamInProgress

Mahmoud Alnaouq is a Gaza-based writer and researcher at We Are Not Numbers.

Follow him on Twitter: @AlnaouqMahmoud

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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