So Fatah and Hamas are merging, and will create a unity government for the Palestinian Arabs.
As I wrote yesterday, the differences between Fatah and Hamas fall in the realms of cosmetics and tactics:
- Fatah, dedicated to the violent destruction of Israel no less than Hamas, is prepared to say pleasant things in English. Hamas is not.
- Fatah is willing to take a state on as much territory as it can get, promise peace, and then move toward its objective, as spelled out in its ‘plan of phases‘. Hamas will only agree to a hudna (temporary truce) if Israel withdraws from all the territories. Then the war will continue.
Ultimately, although they are quite different in the kind of life they will offer the Arabs in their state — Hamas will enforce Islamic law — there is no difference for Israelis. They will be dead or dispersed if either gets its way.
Neither Hamas nor Fatah intend to engage in bilateral talks with Israel. Hamas spokesperson Mahmoud Zahar said yesterday that
Our program does not include negotiations with Israel or recognizing it … It will not be possible for the interim national government to participate or bet on [sic] or work on the peace process with Israel.
Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah/PLO made one of his typically ambiguous statements, which will be jumped on as a ray of hope by peace processors:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signaled on Thursday that peace talks with Israel would still be possible during the term of a new interim government formed as part of a unity deal with Hamas.
Abbas said the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which he heads and to which Hamas does not belong, would still be responsible for “handling politics, negotiations” …
In his comments, Abbas also addressed reactions by Israeli officials to the Hamas-Fatah unity deal, saying: “Netanyahu and Lieberman said yesterday that I had to choose between Israel and Hamas, but Hamas is part of the Palestinian people, and whether or not you like or agree with them, they are part of our nation and they cannot be extracted from us.”
But Abbas has refused to negotiate with Israel until now — for 10 months because the official freeze on construction in settlements did not include Jerusalem (although de facto it did), and after that because Israel refused to extend the freeze. Do you think the presence of Hamas in his government will render him more likely to talk? I don’t. Anyway, he has his heart set on getting everything he wants from the UN without having to give up anything to Israel.
The ‘peace process’ which began with Oslo is now officially dead. May it rest in peace.
Pro-Israel US Congress members are saying that if a Palestinian Authority (PA) unity government that includes Hamas is set up, and if Hamas doesn’t agree to recognize Israel, accept prior commitments of the PA and renounce terrorism, then the US must, by law stop all assistance to the PA. The European Union (EU), also, has demanded that Hamas must meet the substantially equivalent ‘Quartet conditions’ (of course they manage to help Hamas in other ways).
I can’t imagine that this will happen. I expect that Hamas will say something, anything, that the Administration will be able to interpret as meeting its criteria for a civilized Palestinian government.
The last time Hamas was part of a unity government (2006), Fatah threw them out in response to international pressure and then Hamas took over in Gaza by force of arms (2007). This time I don’t think there will be that kind of pressure. The world has begun to accept the murderous, racist Hamas. We can thank the international Left and the Turks for their flotillas, Israel for its failure to complete Operation Cast Lead, and the weakness of the Obama Administration for not allowing Israel to put real pressure on Hamas.
So what’s next? Nothing good. Here are the choices, as presented by ‘Joe Settler’ in the Muqata blog:
Scenario 1 is that by September the EU, the UN, and everyone else willfully ignores that Hamas is part of the PA government. They go to the UN. Everyone votes for the new terrorist state – the US certainly won’t be a party-pooper and veto it. And presto, instant state.
Scenario 2. This summer they launch a full out war against Israel with Hezbollah’s help. At some point they run to the UN and beg for a cease fire, and while they’re at it, declare this their war of independence, which the UN will recognize as such (you can bet they like this scenario better, because it includes a war).
In either scenario, they get a state and come October, Hamas takes over. But they don’t care. Phase 2 will have been achieved.
The PA isn’t interested anymore in maintaining the fiction of Peace, because they are solely working towards a unilateral declaration of a state and war with Israel.
Do you think his remark that they prefer war is an overstatement? The PLO charter, never revoked despite lies and obfuscation, includes this:
Article 9: Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine.
The Hamas Covenant includes this:
Article Thirteen: There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.
I hope ‘Joe’ and I are wrong. But I don’t think so.