Overcoming the split between Fatah and Hamas, and between the West Bank and Gaza, has always been a precondition for final resolution of the conflict. In fact, many who oppose a two-state deal have, in recent years, done so by arguing that divisions among the Palestinians make peace impossible. Obviously, reconciliation reduces that obstacle – but now skeptics of a two-state agreement have immediately stepped forward to say that a deal is impossible with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas.
The obstacle for those of us who are ‘skeptics’ has not been that the Palestinian Arabs were split. Rather, it’s been that even if it were true that the Fatah/PLO faction was a partner for peace (which I doubt), 40% of the Palestinians are ruled by Hamas, which is explicitly and unrepentantly racist, terrorist and genocidal. The marriage of these groups can only make the situation worse, not better.
We are well aware that there are those in Hamas who are not interested in a two-state solution but who seek the long-term destruction of the state of Israel as a Jewish national home. No one should have any illusions about the dangers and risks ahead.
“There are those in Hamas…?” What are the J Streeters smoking? Are there ‘those’ in Hamas who do not seek the destruction of Israel? And what’s this “Jewish national home” stuff? That’s the language of the Balfour Declaration, which was specifically not drawn in terms of a sovereign state (why it is like this is a fascinating historical question, but not relevant here).
In a way, J Street is correct. ‘Some’ in Hamas do accept the idea that a number Jews may be allowed to continue living in the state of ‘Palestine’, tolerated as dhimmis under Islamic rule. Of course, ‘some’ others believe that all the Jews should be exterminated, even outside of ‘Palestine’. But the illusion they are trying to generate, that there is a ‘moderate’ wing of Hamas with which Israel can negotiate, is absurd.
So what’s their point? It’s this:
The only way to answer the questions raised by these new developments is through engagement and talks. We urge the United States, Israel and the international community to respond to this new development with caution and questions, but not with hostility. Encouraging movement in the right direction through engagement is more likely to lead to a long-term peaceful resolution than responding, for instance, by automatically cutting off aid to the Palestinian Authority.
The only way to respond to someone who wants to kill you is with hostility, not financial support. Here is the Hamas idea of ‘engagement’, article 13 of the Hamas Covenant:
There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has represented itself as interested in a peaceful two-state solution, although in fact we know that its definition of such does not include a sovereign Jewish state. But aligning itself with Hamas means that even this pretense is being discarded.
J Street suggests that, for all that, the new Palestinian entity may be moderate:
If indeed this reconciliation deal is implemented – and history does give reason to question whether it will – there are many questions that the new Palestinian leadership must answer in the coming weeks and months. Is the Palestinian Liberation Organization – as the official representative of the Palestinian people – still committed to a two-state solution? Is it willing to reaffirm its renunciation of the use of violence and terror against Israeli civilians? Will existing security understandings be honored? Will rocket fire from Gaza be stopped?
This is one of the sneakiest bits of verbiage I’ve come across in some time, but par for the course for the deceitful J Street. As originally reported by “Eldad Tzioni” and further discussed by me here, it is not at all certain that Hamas will join the PLO although it will participate in a ‘unity government’. The PLO, as we know, pays lip service to the idea of a two-state solution, the renunciation of terror, etc. But Hamas won’t even need to lie about it in order for it to be part of the Palestinian government.
What is important to J Street, in its role as the Jewish branch of the Arab lobby, is that the US should support the PA regardless of its policies.