Saturday, December 2

The Hudna as Proposed by Khaled Mashaal of Hamas

While it is desirable and logical that Hamas changes its attitude towards Israel and recognizes Israel’s right to exist so that negotiations could move beyond a cease-fire. There is great difficulty in the Hamas ruling camp coming to terms with Israel’s existence. The most that they are prepared to do is declare a “hudna” within the framework of a cease-fire. It would be ideal to ignore Hamas and appeal to the moderate Palestinians to negotiate with Israel in order to achieve peace and a just two-state solution. Unfortunately, Hamas holds all the bargaining chips in this regard and, as difficult as it is, Israel has to come to terms with negotiating with the Palestinian People’s majority choice – Hamas!

Naturally, Israel will not accept this reality. Is it very pessimistic? Most Israelis will say “Yes!” unanimously. If one examines the Hamas condition of a “hudna” or temporary peace until they have mustered enough strength to declare war on Israel in order to destroy her, it proves that Hamas de facto does recognize Israel’s existence! If Israel did not exist then there would be no need to destroy Israel. They are prepared to sign a “temporary treaty” with Israel. If one signs any treaty, whether temporary or permanent, surely this is recognition of the party with whom the treaty is signed. This is logical.

How does Hamas come to terms with signing a “hudna” with a country that does not exist? Perhaps this question should be addressed to the Hamas leadership. Maybe Khaled Mashaal could answer that. A hint to his de facto recognition of Israel can be found in the link if nothing else. Israel has to find away to come to terms with that for what it is worth and take advantage of it in its negotiating stance.

If we take Hamas at face value, perhaps Israel should find a way to sign a “hudna”, if this is their desire. It does not necessarily have to be to Israel’s disadvantage. The longer the “hudna” lasts, this period could be used for initiating confidence building tactics on both sides. The cease-fire, as fragile as it is, would strengthen. It would give Hamas time to climb down from the “tree of non-recognition of Israel” to a more pragmatic stance of recognition. During this period, there should be total cessation of violence on both sides. This should also be accompanied by international monitoring of both sides to prevent violence and re-arming.

While there is this period of cease-fire, intensive negotiations should begin to find a permanent solution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. At the same time, the embargo on the Palestinians should cease and the European Union, Israel and the US should pour in funds to rebuild Palestine and at the same time there should be accountability that these funds will be used for reconstruction, education, health, industries, social services and infra structure. This would result in vast improvement for the Palestinian People economically. If this were not done, the situation would rapidly slide back into violence and bloodshed between the two sides. Improvement of conditions for the Palestinians would be the best method to counter violence. Economic investment in a stable Palestinian state is the best insurance to counteract violence and hate. The longer there is peace and quiet, the better are the chances of a permanent peace and stability for both peoples. The desire and motivation to renew violence would decrease substantially.

There would have to be a system of checks and balances to prevent Hamas and its allies from resorting to terror by serious international monitoring. Once this is achieved, the motivation for violence will decrease and Hamas will recognize Israel’s right to exist as the occupation will cease over a period of time when final stage negotiations begin.

Of course, this will be viewed as dreaming by most people. Nevertheless a start has to be made even if it is the tentative “hudna” which, given time, would become permanent. The alternative will be worse!  

The sticky issues such as the refugees and East Jerusalem would then be discussed as part of a fair deal with which both sides will be able to deal and live.

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