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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/21/10

Mideast Peace Talks Back On, Hamas Not Invited to the Table

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"Mideast peace talks back on" was the headline in the morning paper.

On September 1, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will come to Washington for a White House dinner and begin direct peace talks toward a final settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. As previously agreed to by the participants, the settlement must be completed within one year.

One would like to feel optimistic toward this renewed endeavor and not be overly critical and skeptical at the prospects for a settlement of this long standing dispute.

But when all sides of a conflict are not represented at the table, particularly for the Palestinians, one wonders how that conflict is supposed to be resolved?

To wit, Hamas, the legitimately elected political entity elected in a free and fair election by the Palestinian people in 2006 over Abbas Fatah party is not invited and not represented at the table.

In an armed dispute between the two Palestinian factions after the results of the election became known, Hamas forcibly ejected Fatah completely from Gaza and has ruled there ever since.

Meanwhile Israel and the U.S. never accepted the results of Hamas electoral victory (referring to Hamas as a terrorist organization) and with Israel as the occupying power, it alone prevents Hamas from ruling in the West Bank.

So Abbas remains as the unelected de facto leader of the occupied Palestinians in name only within his offices in the West Bank. The Palestinians in Gaza are ruled by Hamas. In the entire history of the Palestinians, though now geographically separated, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were considered as one entity. In fact this geographical separation only occurred when the State of Israel was created in 1948 whereby Israel's geographic location separated the Palestinians in Gaza from their counterparts in the West Bank.

As to the reason for the enmity between Israel and Hamas it has been Hamas' refusal to accept the existence of the State of Israel. But interestingly, this position of Hamas vis-a-vis Israel is the position of all other countries in the Arab world except Egypt (whose recognition and peace accord with Israel was engineered by Egypt's Sadat, Israel's Begin and President Carter in the Late 1970's).

And consider Hamas as a political entity arose only because of the failure of then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and his PLO to engineer a peace settlement with Israel. Abbas, as the successor to Arafat also was unable to get Israel to agree to a settlement. Thus in steps Hamas into the existing breach.

In the long history of territorial disputes (not just in this area of the Middle East) between indigenous antagonists each side considers the other as illegitimate, terrorists, guerillas or insurgents et al. So Hamas' stance toward Israel and Israel's refusing to recognize Hamas (depicting it as a terrorist organization), should be seen as nothing original in their ongoing refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the other.

Now in steps Obama inviting Netanyahu and the defeated Abbas to the table while he completely rejects and omits the legitimately elected Hamas from the proceedings.

To this observer, how do you achieve a lasting peaceful settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict while completely leaving out one of the entities (Hamas) in the dispute? It doesn't add up; doesn't compute and makes no sense! How can it possibly succeed?

Another politically orchestrated failure to reach a settlement in this long running conflict can only bring further cynicism toward the possibility of ever reaching a lasting accord between the antagonists. It seems to assure the rift will grow wider and more intractable; a festering sore that can't be healed.

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