- Sham Israeli peace negotiations were stillborn from inception.
Writer Henry Siegman once called them "the most spectacular deception
in modern diplomatic history."
- Netanyahu once said they're "a waste of time."
Previous Israeli officials called occupation and status quo conditions
- Republican presidential aspirant Newt Gingrich calls
Palestinians an "invented" people. Decades ago, former Israeli
Prime Minister Golda Meir (a transplanted Ukrainian American) said:
- "There is no such thing as a Palestinian people.
It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They
didn't exist....How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody
to return them to."
- No wonder Edward Said once called the occupation an "atrocity"
and the peace process "a disheartening bloody impasse.....to reduce
the Palestinian actuality to nil, to efface Palestinians as a people with
legitimate rights, to render them alien in their own land."
- Israeli repression reached new extremes under Netanyahu.
His government is Israel's worst ever. He exceeds the worst of Ariel Sharon
and previous hard-line leaders.
- On December 25, Haaretz writer Barak Ravid headlined,
"Netanyahu: Israel will not negotiate with Palestinians should Hamas
join government," saying:
- Netanyahu vowed no talks if Fatah and Hamas unite for
all Palestinians. In a speech at a conference for Israeli ambassadors,
- "If Hamas joins the Palestinian government, we will
not hold negotiations with the Palestinian Authority....The peace process
can only advance while maintaining security arrangements, which is becoming
more difficult in light of the current situation in the region."
- In April, Hamas and Fatah announced reconciliation and
plans for transitional government ahead of presidential and parliamentary
elections within a year to produce unity. Currently, they're set for May
- Netanyahu reacted angrily saying, "choose between
peace with Israel or peace with Hamas." Reconciliation shows "weakness,"
he added. "There cannot be peace" if both sides unite. "What
happened....in Cairo is a tremendous blow to peace and a great victory
- Despite reservations on both sides, signing ceremony
comments signaled hope. Abbas suggested turning a page, saying:
- "Four black years have affected the interests of
Palestinians. Now we meet to assert a unified will. Israel is using the
Palestinian reconciliation as an excuse to evade (peace. It) must choose
between peace and settlement."
- Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said:
- "Hamas was ready to pay any price for internal Palestinian
reconciliation. The only battle of the Palestinians is against Israel.
Our aim is to establish a free and completely sovereign Palestinian state
on the West Bank and Gaza strip, whose capital is Jerusalem, without any
settlers and without giving up a single inch of land and without giving
up on the right of return."
- In mid-December, Abbas and Mashaal met again in Cairo
after Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced Palestinian Liberation Organization
(PLO) membership plans.
- They'll form a committee ahead of next May's presidential,
parliamentary and Palestinian National Council (PLC) elections. Once held,
they'll join the PLO as sole legitimate Palestinian representative.
- Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded supportively,
saying "Moscow welcomes the serious talks between the Palestinian
factions that aim to end Palestinian division."
- According to the Turkish Anatolian news agency, so did
Ankara. It also praised Egypt's sponsoring role.
- On December 24, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard
Valero announced full support, saying:
- "This is an important element for the unity of the
future State of Palestine, and in that sense, this reconciliation is in
Israel's future interests."
- He added that reconciliation depends on Israel ending
Gaza's siege, as well as both sides denouncing violence and respecting
- During Bethlehem's Christmas midnight mass, Latin Patriarch
Fouad Twal called Palestinian self-determination the main thrust for achieving
- "We ask for peace for the Palestinian people and
for the Israeli people. We ask for peace, stability and security for the
entire Middle East so that our children and their children may live their
childhood in innocence, in a healthy environment where they may play together
without fear or complex."
- Israel and Washington, of course, remain significant
obstacles very much unresolved.
- Unity Discussions Scheduled to Continue
- In late January, unity discussions will continue to select
transitional government members until elections. In February, Palestine's
parliament will resume operations.
- At issue is Israel's response. Elections in Gaza, the
West Bank and East Jerusalem depend on cooperation. In 2005, Israel manipulated
the process for Abbas.
- Leading opposition figure Marwan Barghouti was imprisoned
on bogus murder charges. In addition, Mustafa Barghouti's candidacy was
sabotaged for "demand(ing) total and complete reform, (ending all)
form(s) of corruption, (and) mismanagement, and (working to) consolidate
the rule of law."
- As a result, Israel arrested him while campaigning, expelled
him from East Jerusalem, excluded him from Nablus and Gaza, harassed and
intimidated him repeatedly, and effectively rigged the process for Abbas.
- In 2012, Israel may either prevent Palestinian elections
with Hamas candidates or sabotage them to assure Israeli-friendly officials
only gain power.
- Another obstacle involves registering Palestinians worldwide
to participate and letting them vote in PLO mission offices. Doing so depends
on cooperation from countries where they live.
- The PNC will have 350 delegates, 150 from the Territories
and 200 diaspora ones. PNC Chairman Salim Zanoun has his hands full. He
heads a committee charged with making this possible. Doing so's not easy.
Nor is it for millions of occupied Palestinians or diaspora ones prevented
from returning home.
- According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics
(PCBS), Palestinians worldwide number 11.22 million as of yearend 2011.
About 4.23 million live in Palestine (including 1.6 million in Gaza), another
1.37 million in Israel, 4.99 million in Arab countries, and around 636,000
in other countries.
- PCBS also said 44% of those in Palestine are refugees
- 42% in the West Bank and 58% in Gaza. Numerous others live in Arab countries,
notably Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
- Ultranationalist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's
extremism is also troubling. Repeatedly he said Israel won't return to
1967 borders. Settlement expansions will continue, and doing so's no obstacle
to peace. In fact, they violate international law and obstruct any possibility
- Targeting Hamas at Israel's Behest
- Baseless accusations are Israel's stock in trade. In
January 1995, at its behest, the State Department duplicitously declared
Hamas a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
- Its emergence began after 1967. In the late 1970s, Israel
offered financial aid to counterbalance PLO influence. During the first
Intifada (1987 - 1993), it gained prominence. Israel remained supportive.
- At issue was manipulating both sides to prevent peace.
Like America, Israel needs enemies to justify conflict and violence. Hamas
was chosen strategically to advance Palestinian divisions.
- In Arabic, Hamas means courage and bravery. Since established,
it's resisted oppression and occupation. It prefers negotiation and international
consensus, not violence.
- However, its charter says it'll fight for its rights
if Israel prevents peaceful reconciliation. It rejects Zionist intentions
to destroy Palestinian society, its values and "wipe out Islam."
- It calls itself "a humane movement, which cares
for human rights and is committed to the tolerance inherent in Islam as
regards attitudes towards other religions. It is only hostile to those
who are hostile towards it....(Under Islam) it is possible for the members
of the three religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism to coexist in safety
and security" as long as other religions "desist from struggling
against Islam over sovereignty in this region."
- It wants peace, equity and justice for all Palestinians.
It prefers negotiating on the basis of "hudnah" or temporary
truce. It's founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, said Hamas would end its liberating
struggle "if the Zionists ended their occupation of Palestinian territories
and stopped killing Palestinian women, children and innocent civilians."
- It current leaders are willing to recognize Israel in
return for self-determination in peace inside pre-1967 borders - 22% of
historic Palestine. Moreover, numerous times it agreed to unilateral ceasefires
in spite of repeated Israeli violations.
- Nonetheless, it responses defensively after continued
provocations. Washington and Israel call it "terrorism." Under
international law, it's legitimate self-defense.
- Besides being Palestine's legitimate government, Hamas
provides vital social services, including medical clinics, education, free
meals for children, help for orphans, financial and technical assistance
for homeless families, aid to refugees, special youth and sports clubs,
and more as their resources allow.
- It also maintains an elite military wing for self-defense,
policing and security, the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.
- It wants equitable peace and reconciliation. So do Arabs
and Jews. Israel and its Washington paymaster/partner choose violence.
That Gordian Knot remains to be cut.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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