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Sunday, October 24, 2010

When sauce for the goose isn't sauce for the gander

Tariq Alhomayed, the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, takes Hamas to task for criticizing the 'Palestinian Authority' for considering negotiations with Israel without a 'settlement freeze,' while negotiating itself for the release of Gilad Shalit without such a 'settlement freeze' in place.
The question that must be asked here is; what is more important to Hamas – which now wants to negotiate with Netanyahu's government – negotiating with the Israelis for the sake of releasing Gilad Shalit, or negotiating [with the Israelis] in order to liberate the Palestinian territories and therefore establish a Palestinian state? Is this Israeli soldier more important than the suffering of the Palestinians, and the dream of a [Palestinian] state, something that has cost the Palestinians and the Arabs a generation of conflict, killing, and destruction?
To me, the answer seems obvious. To Hamas, a 'Palestinian state' can only come by means of violence. Therefore, they see no point in 'negotiations' over it regardless of whether Israel is continuing to build in Judea and Samaria. On the other hand, the 1,000 terrorists they hope to release can be released before or after the establishment of such a 'state.' Hamas would rather have them be released before a 'Palestinian state' is (God forbid) established, because they recognize that those terrorists would become frontline commanders in the war to establish such a 'state.'

Israel continues to negotiate over Shalit's release because it is seen as an attainable goal which gives rise to public pressure on the Prime Minister's office to continue the negotiations. The Israeli public believes that the principles of a deal with Hamas over Shalit are obvious - it's just a question of the number and identity of the terrorists to be released. On the other hand, Israelis are wise enough to realize that the differences over the establishment of a 'Palestinian state' in the 'Washington process' are conceptual and not just a question of numbers. That is certainly true with respect to 'refugees,' Jerusalem and security and may even be true with respect to borders as well. Therefore, there is little public pressure on Netanyahu to agree to a 'settlement freeze' so that the talks will continue.

The 'Palestinian Authority' sees itself losing at both ends. It has climbed too tall a tree with respect to a 'settlement freeze' (thanks to President Obama) and it now has no way down, so it cannot negotiate with Israel. On the other hand, it does not want Hamas' negotiations to trade Shalit for 1,000 terrorists to succeed either, because that will raise Hamas' stock in the eyes of the 'Palestinian people' - a zero sum game in the eyes of the 'Palestinian Authority'/Fatah.

Alhomayed is very much in Fatah's court and so he is criticizing Hamas for 'hypocrisy.' In fact, he may have been asked to write that article by Abu Mazen or Salam Fayyad. But the truth is that each of the parties involved is pursuing its vision of its interests without regard to what the other parties are doing.

What could go wrong?

Read the whole thing.


At 7:42 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

And Fatah is NOT that moderate - it actually criticizes Hamas for being too "accommodating" to Israel! In Palestinian Arab politics then, the worst sin you can commit is to even appear to be moderate!

Some peace partner! Don't look for peace to happen in our lifetime.


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