Sunday, February 25

The National Unity Government of Palestine and the Future of Peace

The Mecca Agreement that has been signed by Hamas and Fatah under the auspices of Saudi Arabia seems to be working as far as cessation of violence between Hamas and Fatah is concerned, if nothing else. There are a number of inadequacies in this agreement. These are, from the Israeli point of view, the ambivalent attitudes towards recognition of Israel’s right to exist, and cessation of terror against Israel. Was this intentional in order to kowtow to Hamas? Possibly!

The moderate Arab States have an important role to play in ensuring that the Mecca Agreement will work. They could make it clear to Hamas that they must be prepared to recognize Israel’s right to exist, cease terror against Israel and release the kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. Obviously, the latter will only occur once the conditions of a prisoner exchange, to which both Palestinians and Israelis could agree, are met. So far, the Saudis and the moderate Arab States have not pressured Hamas to cease their violence. However, King Abdullah of Jordan did state that the National Unity Government must recognize Israel. Mahmoud Abbas also believes that but he is not as forthcoming.

The idea of a National Unity Government of Palestine will be a government that speaks with two voices. One voice (Fatah) speaks of negotiating a settlement with Israel and the other voice (Hamas) does not intend to negotiate with Israel and cease terror.

How can Israel negotiate with the Palestinians when their leadership speaks with two voices? Which is the voice that is a true reflection of the Palestinian Authority? Will it be the moderate voice of President Mahmoud Abbas or the uncompromising voice of Hamas and its leader by proxy in Damascus, Khaled Mashal? Surely this makes negotiations for peace between Israel and the Palestinians impossible. The Hamas leadership has no objection if Mahmoud Abbas negotiates with Israel, but they do not give him the power to reach an agreement with Israel. Mahmoud Abbas remains weak and ineffectual. He will be used by Hamas in order to gain much needed funds for the Palestinians. It is unlikely that these funds (if they arrive) will be used for rebuilding Palestine’s infrastructure, including health services, education, internal security, and industry so that jobs could be created.

There is no doubt that the Palestinian leadership has to become organized and be responsible leaders in order to ensure the building of Palestine. This will ensure Palestine’s independence by becoming a responsible member of the world of nations and all that that entails. Hamas is a cancer in Palestinian society. They can only survive on hate, murder, genocide and general chaos. The enemy of Hamas is prosperity for the Palestinian People. This will ensure its disappearance from the Palestinian camp. Responsible leadership for the Palestinians is the key to a better future and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Even if Israel gives up all the occupied territories, to whom can she return these occupied lands? There is no responsible, stable Palestinian government that can receive these territories without being a threat to Israel. The Saudi Plan of 2002 for peace and recognition of Israel is a reasonable plan and one that is worth considering. This plan makes provision for recognition of Israel by the Arab states for the first time including establishing diplomatic relations. There are problems from the Israeli point of view. They are the following:
  • Giving up all of the Golan Heights

  • A Palestinian political and administrative presence in Jerusalem

  • The dismantling of all Israeli settlements in Golan, West Bank and Gaza

  • The potential problem of the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Despite these pitfalls, the above sticking points need to be clarified and discussed further and a way must be found to solve these pitfalls.

The road to peace between Israel and the Arab states depends on the achievement of peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbours. The moderate Arab States can facilitate the attainment of peace by applying pressure on Hamas to change its attitude towards Israel. The U.S. has lost much credibility in the Middle East because of its failure in Iraq and Afghanistan and the total chaos that resulted in these countries. This could allow the moderate Arab states to act as facilitators in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Failure to achieve peace could cause Iran’s evil influence on Hamas to increase and become a very serious problem as well as a threat to all the peoples in the Middle East, including the Palestinians.

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