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Sunday, March 28, 2010

As long as there's no difference between Fatah and Hamas anyway

This is pretty amazing. Ephraim HaLevy, a former Mossad director who has gone Leftist, argues that since there is no real difference between Fatah and Hamas anyway, we may as well negotiate with Hamas.
For all their recent disagreements, Israel and the United States share a common view of the Palestinians. They have jointly affirmed their resolve to coax the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) to the negotiating table, while ignoring Hamas. This is a policy that has now lasted close to four years—with, by and large, the support of the international community. Hamas, it is commonly agreed, will only make an acceptable partner for negotiation if it undergoes an ideological transformation, a transformation that is very unlikely to ever occur.

But now might be the right time to reconsider this policy, especially in light of the recent behavior of the PA. To take one recent example: When the Israeli cabinet recently designated two sites in Hebron and Bethlehem to be preserved as national heritage landmarks, the PA joined Hamas in issuing inflammatory statements exhorting the populace to demonstrate against the Jewish appropriation of Muslim holy sites. Stone throwing and violence quickly ensued. Abu Mazen, the self-styled moderate president of the PA, provocatively warned of an impending religious war. Only a stern warning sent by Israeli security authorities brought the “moderate” Palestinian leadership to its senses. And even then, it was only the Israelis who were capable of becalming Jerusalem and the West Bank, with sustained and daily operations in Palestinian-controlled areas. In a time of crisis, the shortcomings of the ruling Palestinians were exposed.

It can be difficult these days to distinguish the PA from its Hamas rivals in the West Bank. The festive inauguration of the Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City brought nearly identical statements from the two groups. Just like the Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, key members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and aides to Abu Mazen argued that the reconstruction of this synagogue posed a serious threat to the Al Aqsa mosque. It all raises the question: If the Palestinians in the West Bank won’t make for good partners, then what?


Before President Obama and Premier Netanyahu proceed to negotiate with their dispirited Palestinian interlocutors, why not reconsider the options? Bringing Hamas to the table could relieve pressure on the Palestinians—who would no longer need to worry about the Islamists attacking their credibility. It might create space for a less ideological approach to peacemaking, and it might allow for the negotiation of a more achievable agreement with Israel. Why not hammer out a temporary arrangement between the three sides that would, say, extend for 25 years with a clause for renewal? Such an agreement would make for a practical second-best outcome--a durable interim understanding.
Why not? Because Hamas is demanding real assets, i.e. territory in return for this temporary arrangement. Because contrary to what the White House believes, there is no 'fierce moral urgency' to take enormous suicidal risks for a peace treaty today - we can wait and see if a real partner emerges.

At the moment, the status quo is still better than any of the other options.


At 6:45 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - or Israel can annex Yesha and offer the Palestinians a choice between life under Israeli rule or emigration to a country of their choice.

The Russians haven't offered independence to the Chechens, the Spanish to the Basques, the French to to the Corsicans and the Canadians to the Quebecois.

There is no reason why Israel MUST be the first country on earth to offer a minority their own state. Imposing Israeli sovereignty would remove the "occupation" status and regularize the current situation. Since the Palestinians don't even want a state, it seems like a preferable move to protect national interests - if the government can weather the international condemnation in doing so.

At 9:05 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Speaking of Fatah and Hamas, for more extreme Palestinians inspired by Al Qaeda/Salafist ideology, they are not genocidal enough towards the Jews. Here's a sampling of their views:

The Gaza-based salafi jihadi organization Jama'at Al-Tawhid Wa'l-Jihad (JTJ) has vowed in a new communique that it will decapitate Jews and rip their hearts from their bodies. The communique was issued in response to the recent confrontations at Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Israeli decision to name two holy places in the West Bank national heritage sites. The majority of the communique is devoted to an attack on the Arab regimes, the "'ulama of evil," and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood for having supposedly betrayed the fight against Israel.

Just lovely. And these are the tough guys in a bad neighborhood!

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