Cross-posted from Gush Shalom
Netanyahu explains the challenge of Palestinian peace talk preconditions.
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With outrage, of course.
How does the US react to an Israeli statement that Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas?
With full approval, of course.
FOR ANYONE interested in Israeli-Palestinian peace, the prospect of domestic Palestinian reconciliation is good news.
For years now we have heard Israeli spokespersons announcing that it's no use making peace with half the Palestinian people and continuing the war with the other half. Mahmoud Abbas is a plucked chicken, as Ariel Sharon tactfully put it. It's Hamas which counts. And Hamas is planning a Second Holocaust.
Under the recent Palestinian reconciliation agreement, Hamas is now committed to supporting an all-Palestinian government of experts agreed on by both parties. The Israeli extreme right-wing government is burning with rage. It will never, never, never negotiate with a Palestinian government that is supported by Hamas.
Hamas must first recognize Israel, stop all terrorist activities and undertake to respect all previous agreements signed by the PLO.
That's OK, Abbas declares. The next government will be appointed by me, and it will fulfill all three conditions.
That's not enough, Netanyahu's spokespersons declare. Hamas itself must accept the three conditions, before we deal with a government supported by Hamas.
Abbas could respond in kind. Before dealing with the Netanyahu government, he could say, all factions in the Israeli government must declare their support for the Two-State Solution, as Netanyahu has done (once, in his so-called Bar-Ilan speech.) At least two parties, Naftali Bennett's "Jewish Home" and Avigdor Lieberman's "Israel our Home," as well as a great part of the Likud, would refuse to do so.
One can envision a ceremony in the Knesset, in which every cabinet minister would stand up and declare: "I hereby solemnly swear that I fully and sincerely support the creation of the State of Palestine next to the State of Israel!" The Messiah will arrive first.
Of course, that is immaterial. The stand of individual parties or ministers is unimportant. It is the policy of the government which counts. If the next Palestinian government recognizes Israel, renounces violence and respects all previous agreements, that should be enough.
WHY IS the Palestinian reconciliation agreement good news for peace?
First of all, because one makes peace with a whole nation, not with half of it. A peace with the PLO, without Hamas, would be ineffective from the beginning. Hamas could sabotage it at any moment by acts of violence (a.k.a. terrorism).
Second, because by joining the PLO and eventually the Palestinian government, Hamas accepts in practice the policy of the PLO, which has long ago recognized the State of Israel and the partition of historic Palestine.
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