PA President Abbas (Fatah) and PA Prime Minister Haniyeh (Hamas) on Monday announced that Hamas and Fatah are going to be forming a national unity government.
The first step towards formation of this new government was accomplished today when Hamas ministers handed in their resignations. Now Haniyeh must do the same, after which Abbas must ask someone (presumably Haniyeh) to form a new government, which will include fewer Hamas ministers: now members of Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine will also hold portfolios.
The main purpose of this political realignment is to give a new veneer of respectability to the PA, so that the international community, which had been boycotting Hamas, would resume foreign aid funding. And indeed, as the EU is already re-examining its position with regard to aid, it seems this goal may be achieved.
This new unity government, however, will be predicated upon a lie, a lie with which much of the world will cooperate. The international community had stipulated certain basic positions of Hamas, one of which is the recognition of the State of Israel. Hamas has not recognized Israel, but the fiction is being advanced that such recognition is "implied" in certain positions it is now taking. The unity government is being based on the Prisoners’ Document, which calls for a Palestinian state within pre-’67 lines — Gaza, Judea-Samaria, and east Jerusalem. Well, goes the logic, if Hamas agrees to a state in that area, then obviously, without saying so, it is tacitly agreeing to a state of Israel in the area remaining.
No, no, and no! The Prisoners’ Document is not advocating a two-state solution. It is, rather, right in line with what I described yesterday of the PLO "Strategy of Stages." The acquisition of a Palestinian state in the above-mentioned areas would be a prelude to destroying Israel later. There is no recognition of Israel’s right to exist or legitimacy.
Please, do not be taken in by this. You will be reading a great deal about how Hamas is moderating. Do not believe it. The more the world insists on being self-deluded in this regard because of some perverse compulsion to advance Palestinian interests, the worse for us.
Hamas issued a statement yesterday: "The political program of the unity government does not contain any explicit or implicit recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist entity. Nor does it include any concession on Hamas’s principles and positions. Hamas will continue to abide by its own program, especially regarding the resistance [terrorism] and the refusal to recognize Israel."
Shortly after the announcement was made about the unity government, 18 Hamas members who were part of the PA government and had been arrested for membership in Hamas after Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping, were released on bail by a military court.
Khaled Abu Toameh (who usually gets it right), writing in today’s Jerusalem Post, reports that a PA official stated that "President Abbas received assurances from Israel, the US and other European countries that the Hamas leaders would be freed after the [unity government] agreement." In my book, if this is accurate, it makes the Olmert government complicit in advancing the notion that the unity government will represent increasing moderation.
And there’s more: according to this official, this is merely the first step in a process that will lead to the release of Shalit. The entire deal, according to this report, requires the release by Israel of 800 Palestinian prisoners as a "good will gesture" at the beginning of Ramadan. This business of a "good will gesture" — which has been pulled before — could make one gag, it is so transparent. Perish the thought that there should be a prisoner swap. Israel wouldn’t do that. They will simply get Shalit back, and then, coincidentally, express the desire to show good will to this new moderate government by releasing 800 prisoners. Let’s watch this closely.
Abbas has expressed a great willingness to renew negotiations with Israel under the Road Map. And Olmert, G-d help us, has already expressed desire to go this route. This is a dangerous time for Israel. The international pressure will go thus: Look how the PA has extended effort to moderate, now what concessions will you make? And still we are without a government that has either the will or the strength to stand against this. Quite the contrary. Still there is no readiness to face the fact that the Palestinians, who are committed to our destruction, simply cannot be a "peace partner" for us.
All of this is exceedingly relevant to what I wrote yesterday, and so I return to this thesis:
Dr. Martin Sherman, who lectures on political science at Tel Aviv University, is academic director of The Jerusalem Summit, a think tank here in Jerusalem. He has written extensively on the notion of voluntary emigration of Arabs from Judea-Samaria, with Israeli assistance.
His main points:
The paradigm that has been in vogue for solving the Palestinian problem — via a political solution and the notion of "land for peace" — has failed and brought only misery to individual Palestinians living within PA controlled areas.
The Palestinians have enjoyed "conditions far more favorable than almost any other national independence movement since WW-II – widespread international endorsement of their cause,…highly sympathetic coverage by major media, and over a decade of Israeli administrations who have acknowledged (and at times even identified with) the Palestinians’ declared national aspirations."
"In spite of this, the achievements of [the] Palestinian national movement have been more miserable than almost any other national independence movement….the Palestinians have rejected every single viable proposal which would have afforded them a state – from the 1947 partition plan to the 2000 Barak proposals."
Thus it is helpful in understanding the Palestinians to assume they are "driven less by lack of Palestinian self-determination and more by the very existence of Jewish self-determination; less by the aspiration to establish a Palestinian state and more by the aspiration to dismantle a Jewish state."
This "reflects an agenda totally unacceptable by any international standards and thus must be branded as devoid of any legitimacy."
"…if the accepted version of the Palestinian narrative – i.e. a desire for Palestinian self determination and the aspiration for Palestinian statehood – cannot be reconciled with the history of Palestinian behavior, this narrative also must be branded as devoid of any legitimacy."
This is critical. Quite simply, Dr. Sherman is saying that the Palestinians claim one thing — that they want a state, but their behavior indicates they have not utilized multiple opportunities to acquire such a state and instead have focused on destruction of the State of Israel. The evidence is that the "Palestinian national narrative" is phony. We are not looking at a people whose primary longing is self-determination. And yet, the world has bought this "Palestinian national narrative," and people persist in their belief that Palestinians have a "right" to acquire such a state.
Rethinking this requires a major paradigm shift.
It is time to approach the problem at a humanitarian level, dealing only with individual Palestinian famil
ies and not with any Palestinian political entity. Dr. Sherman suggests "a generous relocation and resettlement package." He says a great deal more as well, regarding the prerequisites for such a relocation plan to work (including dismantlement of UNRWA and termination of discrimination of Palestinians by Arabs in other countries).
There is evidence that a good percentage of Palestinians would be in favor of such a plan, and, says Dr. Sherman, it would cost about 50% of what the war in Iraq is costing the U.S. Israel alone, he suggests, could accomplish this in 10 to 15 years, or it could be accomplished more speedily with contributions from the U.S. and European nations.
Serious ideas that merit serious thought. And, with what is happening here at the moment, now is a propitious time to begin to set into motion the paradigm shift that will take years to fully accomplish.
This posting can be found at: https://arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/9/13/posted-september-13-2006.html