Cross-posted from Wallwritings
Alan Arkin in CATCH 22 (1970).
(image by Movie Actors)
Following yet another round of failed peace talks, Palestinian leaders have seized the initiative to create their own future.
Knowing that Israel has consistently demonstrated no interest in reaching a peace accord, Palestinian leaders defied pressure from Israel by signing their own reconciliation agreement.
The agreement is between the mainstream PLO faction, Fatah, and the Islamic Liberation group, Hamas.
Not only Palestinian leaders, but the Palestinian people appear ready for their own Palestinian unity, not one designed by Israel.
The unity government agreement was reached in Gaza City, April 23, after talks between Hamas leaders and a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) delegation headed by Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior figure in president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party.
Immediately, Israel threatened to adopt "draconian measures" against the Palestinian Authority (PA) in case the latter dared implement the agreement with Hamas on the ground. The punitive measures include (the usual) halting the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinians as well as a series of other restrictions and harassments.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was quoted as saying on Friday (May 16) that the PA would have to choose between Hamas and the peace process.
Veteran Palestinian journalist Khalid Amayreh describes the situation in the Voice of Palestine:
"Israeli leaders repeatedly argued that the Jewish state could not make peace with the Palestinians as long as the Palestinian house remained divided against itself.
"But when Fatah and Hamas reached the reconciliation agreement, Israel was visibly furious as Israeli officials reiterated long-standing but spurious arguments about resistance and terror as well as Hamas's refusal to recognize Israel."
So there we have it, Israel's right-wing government takes yet another step into the depths of absurdity by informing divided Palestinian leaders that they cannot make peace with Israel unless they are unified.
Unified how? Unified only in the way Israel says they can be unified.
This is nothing less than Israel's version of a Catch 22.
Travel back to 1970 and recall the Joseph Heller novel that inspired the Mike Nichols-directed film, Catch 22. The title is explained, and it fits Israel's current stance, in this exchange, from the film, which is set in World War II.
The dialogue is between "Doc" Daneeka (Jack Gillford), the base doctor, and Yossarian (Alan Arkin, above), who insists he does not want to fly any more combat missions:
Dr.'Doc' Daneeka: Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat isn't really crazy, so I can't ground him.