So Hamas has taken over Gaza and the Palestinian Unity Government is essentially dead. Is this good or bad for Israel? Some commentators, like Ami Isseroff, think it’s awful:
What is happening in Gaza, the destruction of the Fatah by the Hamas, is an unmitigated disaster for United States and Western policy, and a grave threat to Israel…
A relatively small force of Hamas Islamist extremists are liquidating the possibility of a two state solution. Any possibility of peaceful coexistence is being swept into the dustbin.
I’m not so sure. Was Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah a partner to negotiate a two-state solution? Even Isseroff apparently isn’t sure:
No Israeli government could agree to Mr. Abbas’s terms of peace, which include return of Palestinian refugees and surrender of all of East Jerusalem, including Israeli national institutions there such as the Hebrew University on Mt Scopus, the historic Jewish quarter of the Old city and the Western (Wailing Wall).
As he points out, Israel was dragged kicking and screaming by the US to cooperate with the Hamas-controlled PA. But he adds,
…Israel did not oblige those who wanted it to grant more concessions in order to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas. It is unlikely that any such concessions would have really helped Palestinian moderates however. Every concession that Israel made was always seen as a victory for “armed resistance” and not for moderation. At the same time, every concession and every offer were always denigrated as too little, any number of prisoners offered as a confidence building gesture was considered to be a Zionist trick.
Let us remember also that the so-called ‘moderate’ Fatah has a ‘military wing’, the al-Aksa Martyrs brigades, who cooperated in this years’ only successful suicide bombing, in Eilat, and who have never stopped trying to kill Israelis regardless of Abbas’ words.
Let us remember that Fatah is the creature of Yasser Arafat, the spiritual and political heir of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem. Abbas was Arafat’s right-hand man. What can we expect of such an organization, such a man?
What does Fatah do for Israel? Here are some things:
- By allowing itself to be labeled ‘moderate’, it provides an excuse for international donors, who wish to make points with their oil suppliers and domestic Muslims, to funnel money to the terrorist militias.
- By pretending to be a peace partner, it provides a lever by which the US and others can force Israel to make dangerous security concessions which can then be exploited by the terrorist militias.
- By appearing to be a counterforce against Hamas, it provides an excuse to pump even more weapons into the hands of the terrorist militias.
Hamas is no more hostile to the Jewish state than Fatah; it is just more honest about its intentions, more efficient, better motivated, more effectively led, and less corrupt. Because of this it is more dangerous, but it also adds a measure of clarity to the struggle, which in the long run might spell the difference between survival and destruction for Israel.
The hard fact that many people do not wish to face is that today there is no shortcut to peace for Israel. There is no partner such that, if only the right formulation could be found, if only Israel would be willing to give up a little more, peace would be at hand.
Today it’s necessary to prepare for a long, difficult struggle (as if it hasn’t been long enough and difficult enough until now) in which Israel’s enemies must be defeated and thereby come to understand that the only real solution is coexistence.
Israel made a historic mistake when she signed on to the Oslo process with the evil, duplicitous Arafat. As a result, the conflict was extended, not shortened, possibly by decades. But there’s no going back.
For the foreseeable future, the road to peace runs through conflict, not compromise.