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Monday, October 08, 2007

Does the Hamas call to boycott Annapolis matter?

As many of you undoubtedly know already, Hamas has called for a boycott of the Annapolis Conference gang up on Israel, which is scheduled to take place on November 26 in Annapolis, Maryland. But does that boycott call matter and will anyone listen to it? The Arab News - Saudi Arabia's English language daily - has an editorial that deals with that question today (Hat Tip: Thanos) and while I disagree with a lot of it, I think it's worth a look. Here's my bottom line:

1. Even if Fatah tries in good faith to implement whatever agreements are reached at Annapolis (and I don't believe they will), they cannot be implemented without Hamas' cooperation.

2. No one is going to listen to Hamas' call to boycott. If the Saudis aren't going to listen (which is what the editorial seems to be saying), no one else will either.

3. Israel cannot and will not reach an agreement with Hamas. Unfortunately, they may reach one with Fatah.

4. Look for Hamas and Fatah to have a sulha right after the conference ends, regardless of the Conference's outcome.

5. I don't think there is a place for Hamas at the Conference - Hamas has no interest in 'peace' or in a 'two-state solution.' But then, neither does Fatah.

6. Assuming that the Arab News represents the Saudi government's point of view (which it probably does), I see little chance of any arrangement in which Israel keeps any land liberated in 1967 being agreed to by the 'Palestinians.' Even if Abu Mazen wanted to reach such an arrangement, he would never do so without the Saudis' approval. While the Saudis - like most of the Arab states - would like nothing more than to be rid of the 'Palestinian problem' (they are all sick of it), they will not be the ones to tell the 'Palestinians' that there won't be any 'right of return' and risk the wrath of the 'Arab street' in their own country.

7. Rice has bitten off more than she can handle. She should find a graceful way to get out of the conference instead of continuing to push it. Maybe the US can be too busy with Iran by November 26?


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