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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Is the PA still a negotiating partner?

Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, weighs in on the Fatah-Hamas pact.
Israel does not object to Palestinian unity. On the contrary, we want to negotiate with a Palestinian leadership that speaks for its people in both the West Bank and Gaza. "I'll negotiate with anyone who wants peace," Netanyahu said, following the pact's signing. But can Israel regard as negotiating partners those who speak of its destruction? How can Israelis interact with an organization whose covenant proclaims that "Israel will exist until Islam obliterates it" and "the Day of Judgment will not come until the Muslims fight and kill the Jews."

The inclusion of Hamas in the Palestinian leadership would seem to put a stop to the already stagnant peace process, but there are still ways to revive it. Under the leadership of the United States and Europe, the international community can uphold the criteria for participation in the process: no terror, recognition of Israel and acceptance of all previous accords. Any attempt to establish a Palestinian state unilaterally must be resisted and Palestinian leaders urged to return to — and remain at — the negotiating table. There, those Palestinian leaders genuinely committed to peace will still find Israeli counterparts and an Israeli public prepared to discuss all the core issues and swiftly conclude a comprehensive agreement.

The pact between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority underscores the need for renewed negotiations now. The Palestinians, along with many Middle East peoples, are at a crossroads. One path turns backward to intolerance and conflict, while the other advances toward freedom and coexistence. The first leads to Bin Laden and his Hamas admirers; the second can still be blazed.
Sorry, but no. The 'Palestinian Authority' isn't going to drop Hamas like a hot potato right now. And even if they did, the fact that they entered into this agreement tells us all we need to know about the PA. It's time for another George W. Bush speech about the need for a new 'Palestinian' leadership that really wants peace. And then it's time to step aside until when and if such a leadership actually emerges.

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