Ethan Bronner of the NY Times created a sensation yesterday (or the Times’ headline writer did) when his piece titled “Hamas Leader Calls for Two-State Solution, but Refuses to Renounce Violence” appeared.
Hamas calls for a two-state solution? Do you mean that Hamas has recanted its charter and now believes that Jews can be allowed a sovereign state of any size somewhere between the Jordan and the Mediterranean?
“The whole world knows what Hamas thinks and what our principles are,” [Hamas political leader Khaled] Meshal said in an interview in his Cairo hotel suite. “But we are talking now about a common national agenda. The world should deal with what we are working toward now, the national political program.”
He defined that as “a Palestinian state in the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital, without any settlements or settlers, not an inch of land swaps and respecting the right of return” of Palestinian refugees to Israel itself.
In other words, today we want a Judenrein Palestinian state in the territories, plus an Arab majority in Israel. Tomorrow?
Asked if a deal honoring those principles would produce an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mr. Meshal said, “I don’t want to talk about that.”
In other words, no.
He added: “When Israel made agreements with Egypt and Jordan, no one conditioned it on how Israel should think. The Arabs and the West didn’t ask Israel what it was thinking deep inside. All Palestinians know that 60 years ago they were living on historic Palestine from the river to the sea. It is no secret.”
Asked whether in his pact with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, he agreed to end violent resistance, he replied: “Where there is occupation and settlement, there is a right to resistance. Israel is the aggressor. But resistance is a means, not an end.”
In other words, all of the land belongs to them, and if it is ‘occupied’, they have the right to make war — even if we concede all of their demands!
According to this version of the ‘two-state solution’, Israel agrees to the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the territories and promises to take no action against Hamas. Hamas explicitly does not agree that a sovereign Jewish entity has a right to exist, but will stop active aggression until it feels strong enough to defeat Israel. Meanwhile, Israel agrees to allow millions of hostile Arabs to enter its country, end the Jewish majority and — undoubtedly — precipitate a civil war. What a deal!
He noted that Hamas had entered into cease-fires with Israel in the past and that it was ready to do so in the future. There is one in effect right now. But his broad principle, he said, was this: “If occupation [from the river to the sea — ed.] ends, resistance ends. If Israel stops firing, we stop firing.”
Hamas has offered cease-fires before, on the model of Mohammad’s famous hudna with the Quraysh tribe of Mecca, the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. The treaty called for a period of ten years of peace, like the cease-fire proposal made by Hamas official Ahmed Youssef in 2006. In the case of Hudaybiyyah, Mohammad found a pretext a year later, conquered Mecca and slaughtered the Qurayash.
I should add that previous short-term hudnas have foundered when Hamas, exercising its peaceful rights to dig tunnels under the border or plant explosives near the fence in order to execute operations to kidnap Israelis, has run into IDF opposition.
The concept of a ‘two-state solution’ has always been ambiguous. Even the supposedly ‘moderate’ Mahmoud Abbas has never agreed to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, nor give up the claim to ‘right of return’. For the Arabs, the ‘two states’ have always been ‘Palestine’, where Jews can’t live, and a new Arab majority state where some Jews may live — for a while. This is quite different from the idea of ‘two states for two peoples, living side by side in peace’. The addition of Hamas to the Palestinian Authority makes the contrast even more stark.
Regarding Bronner and the Times: it’s hard to think of a more misleading title for this article.