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Thursday, April 17, 2008

What's a 'precondition'?

The Washington Post gives its op-ed pages over to terrorist leader Mahmoud al-Zahar of Hamas this morning (Hat Tip: Hot Air). While there is much that can be said about this article, I'd like to point out two internal contradictions. Let's look at two passages. Here's the first one:
The U.S.-Israeli alliance has sought to negate the results of the January 2006 elections, when the Palestinian people handed our party a mandate to rule. Hundreds of independent monitors, Carter among them, declared this the fairest election ever held in the Arab Middle East. Yet efforts to subvert our democratic experience include the American coup d'etat that created the new sectarian paradigm with Fatah and the continuing warfare against and enforced isolation of Gazans.

Now, finally, we have the welcome tonic of Carter saying what any independent, uncorrupted thinker should conclude: that no "peace plan," "road map" or "legacy" can succeed unless we are sitting at the negotiating table and without any preconditions.
And here's the second one.
Our movement fights on because we cannot allow the foundational crime at the core of the Jewish state -- the violent expulsion from our lands and villages that made us refugees -- to slip out of world consciousness, forgotten or negotiated away. Judaism -- which gave so much to human culture in the contributions of its ancient lawgivers and modern proponents of tikkun olam -- has corrupted itself in the detour into Zionism, nationalism and apartheid.

A "peace process" with Palestinians cannot take even its first tiny step until Israel first withdraws to the borders of 1967; dismantles all settlements; removes all soldiers from Gaza and the West Bank; repudiates its illegal annexation of Jerusalem; releases all prisoners; and ends its blockade of our international borders, our coastline and our airspace permanently. This would provide the starting point for just negotiations and would lay the groundwork for the return of millions of refugees. Given what we have lost, it is the only basis by which we can start to be whole again.
In the first passage, Zahar demands that Hamas be seated at the negotiating table "without any preconditions," i.e. without having to concede Israel's 'right to exist.' And yet in the second passage he gives what he terms a "starting point for negotiations" that demands that Israel "withdraws to the borders of 1967; dismantles all settlements; removes all soldiers from Gaza and the West Bank; repudiates its illegal annexation of Jerusalem; releases all prisoners; and ends its blockade of our international borders, our coastline and our airspace permanently." So is he willing to negotiate without preconditions or not?

In the second passage, Zahar says that Hamas 'fights on' because "we cannot allow the foundational crime at the core of the Jewish state -- the violent expulsion from our lands and villages that made us refugees -- to slip out of world consciousness, forgotten or negotiated away." If we're talking about a "foundational crime at the core of the Jewish state," it would seem to be referring to the results of Israel's 1948 War of Independence. And yet, the entire concept of 'negotiations' with the 'Palestinians' is predicated upon the acceptance of 1948's results, i.e. Israel's existence, and limiting negotiations to being over 'territory,' i.e. the results of the 1967 War.

Zahar cannot have it both ways. Parties cannot negotiate with each other unless they first agree on a framework for their negotiations. Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with someone who makes it a precondition to negotiations that Israel put its neck on the chopping block. Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with someone who repeats over and over again that the sole acceptable outcome is the end of Israel's existence, and who is willing to come to the negotiating table only if that outcome remains possible. Israel cannot be expected to negotiate its legitimacy or 'right to exist.' Accepting the other party's legitimacy is not a precondition of these negotiations; it's a prerequisite for any meaningful negotiation. Until Zahar attains these basic understandings, there is nothing to discuss with him or his movement.

3 Comments:

At 8:21 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Palestinians have refused to accept the legitimacy of Jewish nationalism - Zionism - since the Mandate days and they've kept on losing and the Jews have kept on getting stronger. As long as they persist with that attitude, they will never have a state. They are the ones who constitute the primary obstacle to its coming into being.

Jew hatred has been such a great tonic for the Palestinians that they've persuaded themselves its brought the Jews on the run. Well, let Mahmoud Zahar and his ilk keep right on thinking that Israel's demise is just around the corner.

 
At 8:21 PM, Blogger Ashan said...

Exactly. One Hizbonazi flunky recently said that the next war will be played out in Israel's backyard. I thought, hmmmm, sounds like Raed Salah (who's still not behind bars), Tibi and the other Palithug traitors in the Knesset have rallied enough support amond Israel's Arabs to created a terrorist insurgency right here. Frightening, but realistic, prospect.

 
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