With Palestinians meeting in Cairo in a series of meetings where first it seems that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are meeting and then the other factions to meet on Monday, Ynet is reporting a very interesting story: Abbas: Hamas agreed to renounce terror. This seems based on a report from a month ago when Palestinian President Abbas met with Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal. Abbas had this to say:
We set the agreement's pillars, and Hamas agreed with us that resistance will be popular and adopt peaceful ways, rather than military resistance," the Palestinian president said. "The solution is the establishment of a state in the 1967 borders, and Hamas agreed to that, as well as to holding the elections on May 5, 2012."
The surprising statements were made a day before another meeting is slated to be held in Cairo where the two Palestinian movements will be discussing the implementation of their reconciliation agreement.
However, (and the article notes this as well) these sentiments are contradicted by last weeks comments from Hamas' Leadership in Gaza where Ismail Haniyeh said:
Resistance is the way and it is the strategic choice to liberate Palestine from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) sea and to remove the invaders from the blessed land of Palestine," Haniyeh told the crowd, which chanted: "We will never recognize Israel."
"Hamas, together with other stubborn resistance factions, will lead the people towards uprising after uprising until all of Palestine is liberated," Haniyeh said, referring to territory that includes the occupied West Bank and what is now Israel.
The Group then went on to talk about their military acheivements (or lack thereof):
The armed wing of Hamas, meanwhile, announced figures detailing its resistance against Israel. It has fired 11,093 rockets at Israel and killed 1,365 Israeli soldiers since Hamas was formed in 1987, it says.
In a report marking the anniversary, the al-Qassam Brigades said 6,411 Israeli soldiers had been injured in the group's 1,117 military operations and claimed to have arrested 24 Israeli soldiers.
Some 1,848 Hamas militants have been killed, the group said.
I notice that the group has nothing to say about how many civilians it has killed since 1987 either.
Akiva Eldar writing in Haaretz saw this while attending the fourth annual conference of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, headed by former president of Portugal Jorge Sampaio.
Netanyahu. Both the impoverished West and the increasingly wealthy Gulf states are preparing to deal with the Arab world’s youth revolution....
In one corner of the large lobby, I saw a group of young people pinning badges on their shirts that bore maps of greater Palestine (the Land of Israel?) and the inscription “Right of Return.” Among them were two teenage girls from Tunisia, two Yemenite men and an Iranian. I introduced myself as a peace-seeking Israeli Zionist. I wondered what they had to do with a conference devoted to an alliance among civilizations and how their map accorded with the Arab League’s peace proposal, which adopted the 1967 borders.
“That belongs to an earlier time, to [ousted Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak and [ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine] Ben Ali,” said one of the girls. “Don’t you know that everything has changed?” Her friends nodded their heads in agreement.
Eldar makes an interesting point... Against the backdrop of an Israeli crackdown on civil rights both inside the Green Line and in the West Bank, how easy would it be for radicals, and Islamists to make headway with those who see these assaults on the Arab (and Jewish population - just look at reactions to the Knesset's latest flirtation with the Far Right) population and not feed on the frustrations and political immaturity of the young - as witnessed by those talking with Eldar at that conference.
On the other hand, the Israeli Government is facing no coherent message from the Arab Polity. On one side you have those supporting President Abbas who (if the Palestine Papers are correct) is at least willing to discuss a moderate path, (though his representatives say otherwise). On the other you have Hamas in Gaza talking about "We are coming Jerusalem" and "liberating all "Palestinian" land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Even within Hamas, apparently there are glaring contradictions between what Hamas - Gaza and what Hamas - Damascus want to do.
Then you have Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the smaller factions to a group NOT recognizing Israel and these groups while small do have the power to affect the peace process.
SO.... what is there to do?
In my opinion, (and I hope all here will discuss) the answer lies in security assessments of Israel made in concert with an important determination regarding the long term aspects of liberalizing both the State and the Occupation. It is my contention that liberalizing the occupation can be accomplished along with various security steps that will NOT subject Israel to the terror strikes it dealt with at an earlier time. Does that mean doing away with checkpoints, and monitoring roads... certainly not. But it does mean allowing for Peaceful protest and NOT responding with heavy handed methods that simply cause more resentment and hatred from a group of people that don't want the soldiers there in the first place. By allowing expressions of protest and working with local authorities to develop autonomy, it could lead to the beginning of a Palestinian Polity that would learn restraint and state building.
There are those in the Palestinian Polity, like Salam Fayyad who in my opinion, are partners for a peaceful solution with the Israelis and who seem to want just that. While Fayyad is not popular with HamasAs Haaretz reports;
The reason for the hostility toward Fayyad both in Hamas and Fatah may be found in a survey released last week in the West Bank, conducted by a research institute in Ramallah. The survey shows that more than half (57 percent ) of the people want Fayyad to serve as head of the unity government. Fayyad is popular even among some Hamas supporters, 20 percent of whom said they would like to see him as prime minister. Fayyad is the favorite candidate for prime minister of the transitional government among 78 percent of Fatah supporters.
And this number in itself sends yet another confusing message to the Israelis and shows just how divided the Palestinian leadership is on the issue of peace.
One does have to be fair to the Palestinians though on this as well in that the current Israeli Government has not presented a "map" of what it wants set for borders. We have the 2008 Olmert map which would have resulted in a Palestinian State in 96.2% of the West Bank with some swaps in Israel as well. But that Kadima led government is out of power. We have a Foreign Minister (YB's Lieberman) who has a plan for a Palestinian State in 50-60% of the West Bank, and we have vague suggestions from PM Netanyahu regarding a map that combines the Kadima map with the Alon plan. Finally we have the YESHA and the extreme right that want the entire West Bank along with Israel.
So in reality what are the Palestinians looking at when they are trying to decide how to approach any peace. Now some will say that the Palestinians have no desire for peace, and that would be accurate coming from the armed wings of Fateh, all of Hamas, P.I.J, the PFLP, the DFLP (and the Judean Peoples Front - haha just kidding). But then looking at the discussions and the people's support involving President Abbas and PM Fayyad that doesn't necessarily seem to be the case. SO... where do we go from here?