Jerusalem Post, April 28, 2011
“There will be no dialogue with these murderers,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said back in June 2007, referring to Hamas. “There will be no dialogue with the forces of darkness.” Abbas made these remarks shortly after Hamas, in a bloody coup, had seized control of the Gaza Strip. It was also a few months after an assassination attempt against him, which he said was engineered by Hamas. Now the same Hamas members whom he once correctly referred to as “murderous terrorists” are to become Abbas’s colleagues in a “national unity” government.
Abbas purports to expect Israel to cooperate with his volte face by entering into a negotiating partnership with this new government—a Palestinian leadership featuring a terrorist group whose members promulgate the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and vow, as a core of their religious conviction, to eradicate the Jewish state from what they insist is Muslim land.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has declared that such negotiations will not happen. The PA has to choose between a peace deal with Israel and one with Hamas, Netanyahu said on Wednesday. Israel would not accept Abbas’s hair-splitting distinctions between the PLO (to which Hamas does not belong), that would supposedly be responsible for handling negotiations, and the new unity government.
The New York Times’ Ethan Bronner predicted that Israel could be blamed for Abbas’s turn to Hamas. The reconciliation, wrote Bronner, “was sure to fuel debate on whether Mr. Netanyahu had done enough in his two years in power to forge a deal with the Palestinian Authority led by Mr. Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, widely considered the most moderate leaders the Palestinians have ever had.”
Presumably, according to this reasoning, if the government had only caved in to every Palestinian demand, even those that endanger Israel’s security, Abbas would never have followed that sizable proportion of his own people who already chose, at the ballot box five years ago, to entrust their future to a reactionary form of Islamic rule that blatantly discriminates against non-Muslims and champions suicide bombings.
As anyone not prejudiced against Israel and willing to credit Palestinians with making their own decisions knows, however, the real impetus behind the reconciliation, which enjoys massive grassroots support on the West Bank and in Gaza, is that many, if not most, Palestinians truly identify with many of the goals and aims of Hamas. Similarly, many, if not most Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians support the goals and aims of the Muslim Brotherhood in their respective countries, none of which, by the way, are under Israeli “occupation.”
Yasser Arafat fostered the foul notion among his people that there was no historical basis and no modern legitimacy for Jewish sovereignty in this land. Abbas chose not to energetically challenge that mindset. The misnamed new “unity”—which Hamas will destroy at its convenience—is the latest consequence.
Abbas failed to present to his people a compelling vision of a Palestinian state without religious extremism and violence; a state that fosters reconciliation—not with Hamas but with Israel. Instead, his PA has continued to incite against Israel in its school curriculum and its official media and to glorify terrorists who kill Israelis. It has clung to “peace” positions that no Israeli government could accommodate, and chose not to seize upon the unprecedented terms that were offered by former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
Now Abbas is…entering a partnership with an organization that…uses its own people as human shields for its rocket attacks on Israel, that attempted to assassinate him, and whose vision of a Palestinian state is another fundamentalist Muslim regime patterned after Iran. (Tellingly, one of the few senior government officials to have come out in favor of the unity deal is Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi who called it a “blessed, positive move”).…
Rapprochement with Hamas should be counterproductive to the PA’s campaign to secure UN recognition in September for an independent state.… No morally minded country should recognize a Palestinian state led by a government whose members reject the Mideast Quartet’s principles of renouncing violence, accepting past agreements, and recognizing Israel’s right to exist. “Should,” however, is the operative word here.…
Eight months ago in Washington, Netanyahu called Abbas his “partner in peace.” He isn’t any more.
TERRORIST UNITY AND THE PUSH FOR STATEHOOD
P. David Hornik
FrontPage, April 29, 2011
On Thursday, a day after Wednesday’s announcement of a Fatah-Hamas rapprochement in Cairo, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said he would keep pursuing peace talks with Israel. Almost concurrently, top Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said Hamas would stick to its stance of neither recognizing nor negotiating with Israel, but “if Fatah wants to negotiate with Israel over trivialities, they can.”
Notable here is that Abbas cannot “keep pursuing” talks with Israel because he has almost totally abandoned such talks since 2009. [Accordingly], his statement appears to reflect a strategy of retaining his image as a moderate despite the reconciliation with Hamas—and al-Zahar’s grudging agreement suggests Hamas is willing to play along with the game.
And at whom is the strategy aimed? Not at Israel, which, Abbas knows, would not negotiate in any case with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas.… Probably not at the U.S. either. Senior congressmen have already threatened to cut off aid to the PA if the deal with Hamas holds. The Obama administration—which has already come out against the PA’s push for a unilateral recognition of statehood at the UN in September—also reacted coolly. But if, as observers generally agree, the Fatah-Hamas deal aims to allow Abbas to present himself as the leader of a united “Palestine”—both the West Bank and Gaza—at the UN in September, thereby strengthening his pitch for statehood, and if the deal can’t reasonably be seen as an attempt to raise his stock with the U.S., then a likely target is Europe.
Abbas knows that merely getting the standard General Assembly bloc of Muslim and underdeveloped countries to recognize “Palestine” would have little impact. Europe—and especially the key countries Britain, France, and Germany—hasn’t yet taken a clear stance on the statehood push. Abbas knows he can’t have “peace”—that is, can’t get along—with both Hamas and Israel, or Hamas and the U.S. for that matter. But Abbas would like to get along with both Hamas and Europe. That is, he would like to have “unity” with Hamas and a ringing European endorsement of his state, too. Being able to claim he represents all of “Palestine”—while still professing readiness for nonexistent “peace talks” with Israel—could be a way of getting Europe on his side.
As for the UN itself, its Middle East envoy Robert Serry already blessed the Fatah-Hamas announcement on Thursday. And as for the EU, it stated on Thursday that, while it still needs to “study the details” of the deal, “We have consistently called for reconciliation and peace under the authority of Abbas as a way to end the division between the West Bank and Gaza.” In other words, while preferring that Fatah have the upper hand, the EU hardly rules out Hamas—even though it officially defines it as a terror organization.
Much depends—with many skeptical—on whether a Fatah-Hamas unity government will indeed be formed and, if so, will last till September. That would require less than five months; the previous, 2007 Fatah-Hamas unity government lasted only three months before dissolving into bloody strife in Gaza. But these are different times, and some believe Hamas was driven to the deal by alarm over the possible fall of its patron in Damascus.
Much will also depend—presumably—on what such a government would do between now and September. One point of the agreement reached Wednesday, for instance, is a mutual prisoner release. Hamas is supposed to release Fatah prisoners held in Gaza; Fatah, Hamas prisoners held in the West Bank. That would mean hundreds of Hamas terrorists roaming freely in the West Bank, where hundreds of thousands of Israelis live. No doubt the U.S. would react negatively, since those Hamas terrorists were imprisoned in the first place by U.S.-trained Fatah forces under the strategy of helping supposedly moderate Fatah suppress and defeat Hamas. But would Europe see such a move as part of “reconciliation and peace”?
On Thursday Israeli president Shimon Peres said: “The world cannot support the establishment of a state part of whose government is a terrorist organization in every respect.” But it remains to be seen. Seemingly, Fatah’s political melding with openly genocidal Hamas should remove its—and the Palestinians’ generally—last fig leaf of purported moderation. But if it’s Jews vs. (declared) genocidists, it’s again not clear which side Europe, and others, come down on.
A BAD DEAL
Foreign Policy, April 28, 2011
On Wednesday, representatives of Fatah and Hamas, the two main Palestinian factions, announced in Cairo that they had suddenly reached a reconciliation agreement. The emerging deal, which calls for the establishment of a Palestinian unity government to pave the way for elections within a year, has a lot to do with the Palestinians’ drive to gain the U.N. General Assembly’s backing this September for the establishment of an independent state.
But the world should not cheer this bargain. Although the agreement may solve some of the short-term problems of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s statehood drive, it will create larger problems that promise to doom the plan to irrelevancy.…
Abbas’s reconciliation with Hamas contains more risks than it does advantages. Hamas is designated as an international terrorist organization not only by Israel, but also by Canada, the European Union, and the United States. Moreover, it serves as a proxy force for Iran, which provides Hamas with funding, training, and weapons. So even though the Palestinians can always depend on the Non-Aligned Movement bloc for 120 or 130 General Assembly votes, these facts will imperil the Palestinians’ ability to gain the backing of major Western powers, including the EU countries.
Since coming to power in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, Hamas has steadfastly refused to accept the conditionsof the Quartet—the Middle East contact group that includes the United States, the U.N., the EU, and Russia—for becoming part of the diplomatic process.… Mahmoud al-Zahar, the senior Hamas leader who participated in the Hamas-Fatah talks, clarified after the agreement was reached: “Our program does not include negotiations with Israel or recognizing it.” As recently as April 17, Hamas’s military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, reminded its supporters on its website: “We are going on the path of jihad.” Hamas’s intractability will no doubt jeopardize European diplomatic support for the Palestinian statehood drive, as well as financial assistance for any Palestinian government in which Hamas plays a role.
These concerns come on top of other serious European reservations. For example, the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, also known as Oslo II, clearly established: “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the Permanent Status negotiations.” The EU signed Oslo II as a witness. If the EU supports the Palestinian initiative at the U.N., it will be violating a core commitment of the peace process, which is that the territories’ fate should be determined only by direct negotiations between the parties.
The problems with including Hamas don’t stop there. Abbas’s hope is that a General Assembly resolution will reference the pre-1967 boundaries, which have assumed almost holy status among Palestinians. (Never mind that these were only armistice lines from the 1948 war, and were not regarded as final political borders.) In Jerusalem, the pre-1967 line will put the entire Old City, with its holy sites, like the Western Wall, under Palestinian control. Israelis will not agree to such a division of their capital in any case, but will European governments risk putting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre under a regime even partly controlled by Hamas? They know that many members of Gaza’s small Christian community have been seeking refuge abroad in order to flee Hamas rule.…
Abbas needs to choose his priority: working with Hamas, or working with Israel. Faced with the departure of his old regional ally, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’s parent organization, Abbas appears to be recalculating his interests.… The pathway to peace is open. But by reaching out to Hamas, Abbas has plainly moved even further away from it.
NETANYAHU’S TIME TO CHOOSE
Caroline B. Glick
Jerusalem Post, January 29, 2011
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s response to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority’s peace deal with Hamas would be funny if it weren’t tragic. Immediately after the news broke of the deal Netanyahu announced, “The PA must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both.”
Netanyahu’s statement is funny because it is completely absurd. The PA has chosen.
The PA made the choice in 2000 when it rejected Israel’s offer of peace and Palestinian statehood and joined forces with Hamas to wage a terror war against Israel. The PA made the choice in 2005 again when it responded to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza with a tenfold increase in the number of rockets and missiles it fired on Israeli civilian targets in the Negev. The Palestinians made the choice in 2006, when they elected Hamas to rule over them. They made the choice in March 2007 when Fatah and Hamas signed their first unity deal. The PA made the choice in 2008 when Abbas rejected then-prime minister Ehud Olmert’s offer of statehood and peace. The PA made the choice in 2010 when it refused to reinstate peace negotiations with Netanyahu; began peace negotiations with Hamas; and escalated its plan to establish an independent state without peace with Israel.
Now the PA has again made the choice by signing the newest peace deal with Hamas.
In a real sense, Netanyahu’s call for the PA to choose is the political equivalent of a man telling his wife she must choose between him and her lover, after she has left home, shacked up and had five children with her new man. It is a pathetic joke.
But worse than a pathetic joke, it is a national tragedy. It is a tragedy that after more than a decade of the PA choosing war with Israel and peace with Hamas, Israel’s leaders are still incapable of accepting reality and walking away. It is a tragedy that Israel’s leaders cannot find the courage to say the joke of the peace process is really a deadly serious war process whose end is Israel’s destruction, and that Israel is done with playing along.
There are many reasons that Netanyahu is incapable of stating the truth and ending the 18-year policy nightmare in which Israel is an active partner in its own demise. One of the main reasons is that like his predecessors, Netanyahu has come to believe the myth that Israel’s international standing is totally dependent on its being perceived as trying to make peace with the Palestinians.… Irrespective of the nakedness of Palestinian bad faith, seven successive governments have adopted the view that the only thing that stands between Israel and international pariah status is its leaders’ ability to persuade the so-called international community that Israel is serious about appeasing the Palestinians.
For the past several months, this profoundly neurotic perception of Israel’s options has fed our leaders’ hysterical response to the Palestinians’ plan to unilaterally declare independence.
The Palestinian plan itself discredits the idea that they are interested in anything other than destroying Israel. The plan is to get the UN to recognize a Palestinian state in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza outside the framework of a peace treaty with Israel. The PA will first attempt to get the Security Council to endorse an independent “Palestine.” If the Obama administration vetoes the move, then the PA will ask the General Assembly to take action. Given the makeup of the General Assembly, it is all but certain that the Palestinians will get their resolution.
The question is, does this matter? Everyone from Defense Minister Ehud Barak to hard-left, post-Zionist retreads like Shulamit Aloni and Avrum Burg says it does. They tell us that if this passes, Israel will face international opprobrium if its citizens or military personnel so much as breathe in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem without Palestinian permission.
These prophets of doom warn that Israel has but one hope for saving itself from diplomatic death: Netanyahu must stand before the world and pledge to give Israel’s heartland and capital to the Palestinians.
And according to helpful Obama administration officials, everything revolves around Netanyahu’s ability to convince the EU-3—British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel—that he is serious about appeasing the Palestinians. If he doesn’t offer up Israel’s crown jewels in his speech before the US Congress next month, administration officials warn that the EU powers will go with the Palestinians.
And if they go with the Palestinians, well, things could get ugly for Israel.
Happily, these warnings are completely ridiculous. UN General Assembly resolutions have no legal weight. Even if every General Assembly member except Israel votes in favor of a resolution recognizing “Palestine,” all the Palestinians will have achieved is another non-binding resolution, with no force of law, asserting the same thing that thousands of UN resolutions already assert. Namely, it will claim falsely that Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza are Palestinian territory to which Israel has no right. Israel will be free to ignore this resolution, just as it has been free to ignore its predecessors.
The threat of international isolation is also wildly exaggerated. Today, Israel is more diplomatically isolated than it has been at any time in its 63-year history. With the Obama administration treating the construction of homes for Jews in Jerusalem as a greater affront to the cause of world peace than the wholesale massacre of hundreds of Iranian and Syrian protesters by regime goons, Israel has never faced a more hostile international climate. And yet, despite its frosty reception from the White House to Whitehall, life in Israel has never been better.
According to the latest data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel’s economy grew 7.8 percent in the last quarter of 2010. International trade is rising steeply. In the first quarter of 2011, exports rose 27.3%. They grew 19.9% in the final quarter of last year. Imports rose 34.7% between January and March, and 38.9% in the last quarter of 2010. The Israel-bashing EU remains Israel’s largest trading partner. And even as Turkey embraced Hamas and Iran as allies, its trade with Israel reached an all time high last year. These trade data expose a truth that the doom and gloomers are unwilling to notice: For the vast majority of Israelis the threat of international isolation is empty.
The same people telling us to commit suicide now lest we face the firing squad in September would also have us believe that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is the single greatest threat to the economy. But that lie was put paid this month with the demise of the Australian town of Marrickville’s BDS-inspired boycott.
Last December, the anti-Israel coalition running the town council voted to institute a trade, sports and academic boycott against Israel. Two weeks ago the council was forced to cancel its decision after it learned that it would cost $3.4 million to institute it. Cheaper Israeli products and services would have to be replaced with more expensive non-Israeli ones.
Both Israel’s booming foreign trade and the swift demise of the Marrickville boycott movement demonstrate that the specter of international isolation in the event that Israel extricates itself from the Palestinian peace process charade is nothing more than a bluff. The notion that Israel will be worse off it Netanyahu admits that Abbas has again chosen war against the Jews over peace with us has no credibility.
So what is preventing Netanyahu and his colleagues in the government from acknowledging this happy truth? Two factors are at play here. The first is our inability to understand power politics. Our leaders believe that the likes of Sarkozy, Cameron and Merkel are serious when they tell us that Israel needs to prove it is serious about peace in order to enable them to vote against a Palestinian statehood resolution at the UN. But they are not serious. Nothing that Israel does will have any impact on their votes.
When the Europeans forge their policies towards Israel they are moved by one thing only: the US.
Since 1967, the Europeans have consistently been more pro-Palestinian than the US. Now, with the Obama administration demonstrating unprecedented hostility towards Israel, there is no way that the Europeans will suddenly shift to Israel’s side. So when European leaders tell Israelis that we need to convince them we are serious about peace, they aren’t being serious. They are looking for an excuse to be even more hostile. If Israel offers the store to Abbas, then the likes of Cameron, Merkel and Sarkozy will not only recognize “Palestine” at the UN, (because after all, they cannot be expected to be more pro-Israel than the Israeli government that just surrendered), they will recognize Hamas. Because that’s the next step.
It would seem that Israel’s leaders should have gotten wise to this game years ago. And the fact that they haven’t can be blamed on the second factor keeping their sanity in check: the Israeli Left. The only group of Israelis directly impacted by the BDS movement is the Israeli Left. Its members—from university lecturers to anti-Zionist has-been politicians, artists, actors and hack writers—are the only members of Israeli society who have a personal stake in a decision by their leftist counterparts in the US or Europe or Australia or any other pretty vacation/sabbatical spots to boycott Israelis.
And because the movement threatens them, they have taken it upon themselves to scare the rest of us into taking this ridiculous charade seriously. So it was that last week a group of washed-up radicals gathered in Tel Aviv outside the hall where David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israeli independence, and declared the independence of “Palestine.” They knew their followers in the media would make a big deal of their agitprop and use it as another means of demoralizing the public into believing we can do nothing but embrace our enemies’ cause against our country.
The time has come for the vast majority of Israelis who aren’t interested in the Nobel Prize for Literature or a sabbatical at Berkeley or the University of Trondheim to call a spade a spade. The BDS haters have no leverage. A degree from Bar-Ilan is more valuable than a degree from Oxford. And no matter how much these people hate Israel, they will continue to buy our technologies and contract our researchers, because Cambridge is no longer capable of producing the same quality of scholarship as the Technion.
And it is well past time for our leaders to stop playing this fool’s game. We don’t need anyone’s favors. Abbas has made his choice.
Now it is time for Netanyahu to choose.