Both leaders emphasized that the Palestinian Leadership must meet three conditions in order to continue on the road to peace:
- Recognition of Israel’s right to exist.
- There must be total cessation of terror against Israel.
- Both sides must observe previous signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.
Both Pres. Bush and P.M. Olmert paid lip service to the importance of conducting negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in order to bring the peace negotiations back on track.
While, there is no objection to negotiating with President Mahmoud Abbas if only he would not be so weak and ineffectual. The constant harping on the relevance of Mahmoud Abbas seems to be overplayed by both the US and Israel. If only he would be more relevant! He is a good person and does have worthy intentions. His statements are compromising, and filled with the “right music” towards peace with Israel.
The truth of the matter is that Mahmoud Abbas’s attitude is contrary to the Hamas dominated Palestinian Authority, which has remained intransigent and unwilling to give up terror or recognize Israel’s right to exist. Negotiations with Abbas are a futile exercise and lacks relevance.
There is not much room for optimism. According to Danny Rubinstein of Haaretz who interviewed Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas Prime Minister, on 23rd May, told Haaretz that the Hamas government is prepared to agree to an extended cease-fire if Israel withdraws to the 1967 lines. "If Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, peace will prevail and we will implement a cease-fire [hudna] for many years," Haniyeh said during an interview in his south Gaza office. "Our government is prepared to maintain a long-term cease-fire with Israel." Palestinian Transportation Minister Ziad Zaza described the hudna during the interview as "the cease-fire that will be renewed automatically each time."
On the other hand, President Mahmoud Abbas has made some rather decisive statements concerning Hamas in its attitude towards Israel. It may be an ultimatum. He stated that if Hamas is not prepared to accept the “Prisoners’ Covenant”, then he will call a referendum so that the Palestinian People will decide the issue. It is doubtful if Abbas has the will or power to carry out his threat.
Once again, Hamas is playing a dubious tread water game when it comes to its attitude towards Israel. There are signs of unrest between Hamas and Abbas. It is unlikely that Hamas will accept Abbas’s threat to hold a referendum. Hamas will display its anger in the streets with more civil unrest and extremists will threaten to assassinate Mahmoud Abbas. Despite all denials to the contrary, Palestine is on the threshold of a civil war between Fatah and Hamas.
The E.U. and U.S are tightening screws on the Palestinians by withholding funds to the Hamas led Palestinian Authority. Palestine is on the verge of economic collapse and yet Hamas remains as intransigent as ever in its attitude. It is very difficult to draw any conclusions as to what Hamas will decide in the very near future in its attitude towards Israel. There is a power struggle between Hamas and Fatah despite the two sides’ attempts to downplay their differences.
The victims of this power struggle will be the Palestinian People. Many government employees have not received their salaries since Hamas won the Palestinian Elections. The Palestinian regime will blame Israel and the United States.
The situation in the Palestinian Camp is hopeless and it will boomerang in an escalation of terror against Israel. Iran will finance Hamas and Co terror. It is doubtful whether Mahmoud Abbas will hold a referendum on the “Prisoner’s Covenant”. The dubious attitude of Hamas and the weakness of Abbas will ensure total anarchy and havoc as well as further suffering for the Palestinians.