Palestinian factions meet with Saudi King in Mecca

By Vic Rosenthal

PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas’ Khaled Meshaal and Ismail Haniyeh are presently meeting in Mecca.

Abbas understands that he will not have legitimacy with the Palestinians unless some kind of power-sharing agreement with Hamas is reached; Haniyeh, for his part, needs to break the international boycott of the Hamas government to restart the flow of funds from the US and the EU. Both would like to stop the fighting between the various militias that are allied with their groups.

This will require that Hamas reach some kind of compromise acceptable to the ‘Quartet’ of the US, the UN, the EU and Russia that at least pays lip service to the roadmap requirement that Hamas ‘recognizes’ Israel, renounces violence and honors agreements signed by the PA with Israel (i.e., the Oslo accords).

The question, really, is this: What is the magical incantation that Haniyeh can utter that can turn the money on while still allowing him to maintain Hamas’ rejectionist bona fides with his more militant (Palestinian, Saudi, Syrian and even Iranian) supporters?

My feeling is that some kind of ‘recognition’ of Israel as a ‘fact’ without an admission that it is a legitimate fact (in the way that I may ‘recognize’ the presence of a tiger in the road without accepting his right to be there), combined with a ‘renunciation’ of violence that is understood as a possibly extended (but still temporary) hudna (truce), and finally – as Debka suggests – ‘respect’ for the Oslo Accords that doesn’t constitute an acceptance of them will be forthcoming.

Abbas will be guaranteed some presence and influence in the resulting unity government (as well as continued funding for himself and his apparatus), but it will be controlled by Hamas.

The Palestinian journalist Mohammed Mar’i suggests in Al-Jazeerah that this may all take place in the framework of an endorsement of the so-called ‘Arab (or Saudi) Peace Initiative of 2002’ (which I’ve discussed before). The fact that Amir Peretz said something positive about this one-sided formula seems to lend it weight with the US, unfortunately.

Another possibility, based on statements made by members of the Olmert government, is that Israel will get on board by releasing convicted murderer Marwan Barghouti, author of the “prisoner’s document” so that he can be the leader of the Palestinian unity government. This would be a truly frightening prospect, for many reasons.

There seems to be a great desire in most of the world to put an end to the Palestinian infighting so that it will be possible to get on with the project of forcing Israel back to the pre-1967 borders. We’re about to find out if this latest attempt will succeed.

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