Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshal have reached an agreement that would provide for Abbas to head a Palestinian unity caretaker government until elections, which would happen sometime in the coming months. The deal comes on the heels of the abject failure of four rounds of Jordanian sponsored peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in which the Israeli side offered a deal for a Palestinian state that essentially followed the contours of the Separation Wall.
Israeli reaction was swift, negative and predictable:
…Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warn[ed] Mr. Abbas that he could have peace with Israel or unity with Hamas, but not both.
Actually, the truth is Abbas could have peace with Israel if he accepted a neutered Palestine and permanent divorce from Gaza, the other half of the Palestinian nation. What sort of peace would that be?
This Israeli formulation too drives me crazy:
Mr. Netanyahu disagrees that Hamas is changing. He noted in his statement on Monday that until Hamas recognizes Israel, abandons violence and accepts previous agreements with Israel signed by the Palestinian Authority — the three conditions that the United States and the European Union demand of Hamas, which has rejected them — it remains a renegade that must be shunned.
I would suggest a corollary set of Palestinian demands: until Israel recognizes a Palestinian state, abandons violence against Palestinians, and accepts previous peace deals (Oslo, Road Map, etc.) that it signed with the PA–then it remains a renegade that must be shunned.
Congress has boxed the Obama administration into a corner by mandating that any Palestinian government including Hamas within it, must be defunded. That would remove $450-million of the $1 billion Palestine receives in foreign funding. But given the expanding role that Qatar is taking in bringing the Palestinians together and possibly becoming the new home in exile of Hamas, U.S. aid may no longer even be necessary. Idiots like Gary Ackerman and the rest of the Lobby boys in Congress who devised this brilliant piece of legislation, should think about what it will be like to have the U.S. entirely cut out of having any influence with the Palestinians. That’s what will happen if we cut the Palestinians loose.
It won’t hurt the Palestinians since they may have alternate sources of Arab funding. But it will hurt the Israelis because they will continue their own obdurate ways as international pressure mounts against them. Pretty soon, the only ally Israel will have left is the U.S., which will veto all necessary Security Council resolutions criticizing Israel. But in the long-term, Israel cannot sustain this status quo. The future will be grim.
This article appeared at Tikun Olam