February's Mecca Agreement between Fatah and Hamas under Saudi supervision breathed life into the dormant peace process when Hamas pledged to respect past agreements between the PLO and Israel and agreed to an implicit recognition of the Jewish state: the major bugaboo imposed by the Quartet [ U.S., Russia, EU, and U.N.] in exchange for cooperation with and funding of the Palestinian government.
While secretary of State Condolezza Rice failed at attempts to begin a dialogue of equals between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on February 19th, hope is on the horizon on this her fourth trip within four months to the Mid East.
"I think that it is extremely important that there be a political horizon for the Palestinian people, and I sincerely hope that in the future the parties themselves can talk about that political horizon among themselves." http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070325/wl_mideast_afp/mideastdiplomacyus_070325170304;_ylt=Asc7IL4z37DfEi7cgN9VpgeWwvIE
On March 24, 2007 David Welch, State Department assistant secretary for the Middle East "described the meetings among U.S. and Arab diplomats and security and intelligence officials as "lively" and productive, but that there are still different views about the government, for example how durable is it, what is the extent of the agreement on its founding principles and on how far the new government goes toward meeting international demands for recognition and aid…[and]the importance of Arab-Israeli reconciliation as an element in broadening peace, but also in helping to establish a track between Israelis and Palestinians."
Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul-Ilah al-Khatib told reporters after his March 24th meeting with Rice that, "We have agreed on the necessity to open a political horizon, as well as the necessity to outline the issues of the final stance. It is not possible to have the blockade which Palestinian people are being subjected to go on."[IBID]
While Israel, the U.S. and the European Union all consider Hamas a terrorist group citing the deaths of 200 plus Israelis in homicide bombings, they are consistently mute on the "4,070 Palestinians killed since September 29, 2000, of which 869 were children." [ http://www.ifamericansknew.org/]
While Rice has stated the U.S.A.'s desire is to "establish that we have now a common approach to moving forward on developing, articulating a political horizon" which can only mean an independent state to offer frustrated Palestinians in this the 40th year of their occupation, Condi has been frustrated at home.
Author and Mid East analyst, Patrick Seale reported in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs , that Secretary Rice "has been knifed in the back by the hawkish pro-Israeli Elliot Abrams, the White House's main advisor on Middle East Affairs, but also that President George W. Bush himself has failed, at a critical moment to support her…Olmert had phoned George Bush on Feb. 16 and had secured a private assurance from him that the Mecca agreement changed nothing and that the U.S. would join Israel in continuing to shun Hamas. In the Israeli view, the Mecca accord had actually set back the cause of peace by legitimizing Hamas!" [page 12, April 2007 Vol. XXVI, No.3]
But hope is on the horizon, for the International community has responded and has ended the Palestinian Authority's diplomatic isolation.
A senior Norwegian official has already met with Hamas Cabinet Members and European and U.S. diplomats have met or have plans to meet with Abbas and independent members of Cabinet. And even the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers — the U.S., U.N ., European Union and Russia — have said they would judge the new government by its actions.
In March 2006, this reporter spoke with Anwer M. Zboun, newly elected Hamas member to the Palestinian Parliament/PLC who lives in the Abiet refugee camp and has a Masters Degree in Physics. He stated unequivocally, "Hamas is a Palestinian resistance movement and we are not against any people. We are against the occupation. We want to rebuild what the occupation has destroyed. Hamas was born from the suffering of the Palestinian people and we belong to the global Muslim movement. It was on December 14, 1987 after an Israeli driver killed nine Palestinians that the first Intifada [uprising] began and the Islamic Resistance movement in Palestine was renamed Hamas.
"Hamas is a national liberation movement based on Sharia; Islamic Laws and Orders. Hamas is not against any religion. We are not a terrorist movement, but we resist the occupation. Christians voted for us for many reasons and they know we are faithful to this cause: that God knows better than we ourselves know what is for our benefit. We do not force anyone to believe as we do. The public and private schools both teach Islam and Christianity.
"In November 1988 Arafat issued a birth certificate for the Palestinian State and under religion he stated: 'None.' This is because we are a secular state. As Muslims and Christians we live together peacefully and our attitude is citizenship is for everyone. Everybody should have freedom of belief, traditions and a personal life. Hamas does not propose anything that contradicts Christianity.
"Our slogan is: Remove Suffering for everyone. The issue of Israel is about the occupation. We have no problems with religious beliefs; our problem is that Israel is illegally occupying our land. Since March 2005, we have honored a unilateral cease-fire. But Israel martyred 200 Palestinians, injured 1,200 and has detained 3,500. Many are under the age of sixteen. In the last two weeks Israel has killed twenty-five Palestinian and yet we have maintained the cease-fire. Israel does not recognize us and recognition takes both sides.
"Abbas has stated that we do recognize Israel , but there must be clear borders and Israel does not yet have them. The PA recognized Israel ten years ago but we Palestinians are detained in an open air prison. We resist the occupation which is our right guaranteed under International Law. International Law demands Israel withdraw to the 1967 borders, release the prisoners, and stop the assassinations, illegal wall and home demolitions.