Gaza upheaval gives rise to simplistic view of Palestinian society by Susie Becher
While Mahmoud Abbas was watching his followers being paraded through the streets of Gaza in their underwear with their hands above their heads, or being shot dead on live television, Prime Minister Olmert’s vision suddenly cleared: Eureka! There is a partner, an able partner, a worthy partner!
Abbas, who was compelled to resign his post as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority in 2003 over Israel’s unwillingness to cooperate with him on the implementation of the Road Map and who later assumed the presidency only to be met by the same cold shoulder and disregard, has suddenly become the can-do man, the go-to guy. …
Yes, Israel must negotiate with Abbas and must do so quickly. It should take advantage of the good offices of the Arab League to help shepherd the talks and infuse them with a regional dimension. But the talks must not be limited to the process, to confidence-building measures, to withheld taxes and interim borders. This is the time to discuss the final status: Everything on the table, until white smoke rises.
At the same time, it should be remembered that Hamas, by signing the Mecca Accord that gave birth to the short-lived Palestinian national unity government, endorsed Abbas’ right to conduct such negotiations, indicating that it, too, can be a partner. Perhaps by proxy, but a partner nonetheless.
A Hamas spokesman reiterated on Friday that the movement’s goal is the establishment of an independent state along the 1967 borders. This message must not fall on deaf ears. If a peace agreement is reached, it will only hold if it serves as a foundation for reuniting the Palestinian people in a national homeland that encompasses both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Abbas must conduct the negotiations in his capacity as the head of the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people – all the Palestinian people.
Susie Becher is a member of the national executive of the Meretz-Yachad Party. Click here for entire article at Ynetnews.
After reading Ms. Becher’s complete article on ynetnews, I have concluded that I couldn’t possibly disagree with her more. Less than seven years ago Israel faced a similar situation. After the failure of the Camp David II summit, caused by intransigent irredentist Palestinian positions, particularly on the refugee issue, backed up by a fatwa from the Islamic council that called for a reversal of 1948 and the elimination of Israel, the two parties that Ms. Becher recommends negotiating with now embarcked on an Intifada that was basically a repeat of the Mufti’s 1936-39 Arab Revolt with even more violent and terroristic methods. Barak, the then and now new leader of Labor, made the mistake of attempting to negotiate a deal under fire. The result was that the peace camp suffered a major loss at the polls in 2001 and 2003. Today Meretz and Labor are at less than half the strength in the Knesset that they were in 1992 before they started the Oslo process.
Relying on Abbas, on the ropes, backed by Hamas to negotiate a deal with Israel is to invite a repeat of the situation as long as the present government is in power. Olmert is much weaker than Barak was in 2000 or Peres in 1996. Barak is considered to be weak in the eyes of the Islamists for pulling out of Lebanon in 2000 and continuing to negotiate under fire. To negotiate now is to invite a repetition.
Better that Israel should test the sincerity of the Bashir Assad regime in Syria about peace. Israelis are much more supportive about giving up the Golan than they are about surrendering all of the West Bank and allowing refugees to return to Israel in large numbers. If Abbas is still in power in 2-3 years with a new administration in Washington there will be time to negotiate then.
In Northern Ireland the peace process finally succeeded only because an agreement had been negotiated and signed before the moderate parties were fatally weakened. What Becher suggests risks killing off both Abbas and Labor before any agreement is reached. Tony Blair badly hurt the moderates through his appeasement of the IRA. To appease Hamas risks doing the same in the Mideast.
Dr. Mitchell’s conclusion that negotiations now will end in a repetition of Camp David implies an assumption that the negotiations will fail. With the Arab League Peace Initiative on the table, however, Israel may well be facing the best opportunity yet to conclude an agreement not only with the Palestinians but with the countries of the region. Status quo is not an option. Neither Mahmoud Abbas nor any other member of the moderate camp will be in power after another 2-3 years of diplomatic stagnation and brutal occupation, and Israel could find itself facing an adversary that will make it long for the likes of Ismail Haniyah.