With US Secretary of State John Kerry due back in Jerusalem in two days time, and Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority flush with the sense of having achieved something important by getting 26 more of their convicted killers out of jail and back in the villages, it’s an appropriate time to take a moment to reflect about the Islamist terrorist group, Hamas.
What role does it play in the relentless peace process?
Jonathan D. Halevi, an analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has just come out with a paper whose title gives the conclusion away: “Hamas: Abbas Does Not Represent the Palestinians in Negotiations“. He reminds us that Hamas does not recognize Abbas as a legitimate president. Abbas, in fact, does not have Hamas’ permission to even visit their turf, Gaza.
- The Hamas movement, which in the last elections (2006) won an overwhelming majority in the Palestinian Parliament, uncompromisingly opposes any negotiations with Israel, does not accept the PA as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and has reiterated its firm stance that any agreement reached with Israel will be worthless and will not represent the position of the Palestinian people.
- American policy regarding the peace process is based on the premise that it is possible to reach an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians represented by the PLO-Palestinian Authority (PA) under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).
- However, the PA does not represent all of the components of the Palestinian people, nor does it have a mandate to make decisions on the core political issues in the name of the Palestinian people.
- [Hamas] “adheres to the path of struggle regardless of the resulting victims; follows the path of the martyrs until the fulfillment of our national goals and the liberation of Palestinian land; will not give up or recognize this brutal enemy; and that the struggle, God-willing, is in its highest-ever state of readiness.”
- The American initiative ignores the fundamental situation in the Palestinian arena, and the basic fact that the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah headed by Mahmoud Abbas does not enjoy the status that would allow it to make historic decisions in the name of the Palestinian people, and certainly not decisions that are not in line with the Palestinian consensus, which supports “the return of Jerusalem to Arab and Islamic rule” and the “right of return.”
- In fact, the camp headed by Mahmoud Abbas represents a minority in the PLO (and even within the Fatah movement), in the Palestinian territories (the West Bank and Gaza), and in the Palestinian diaspora.
- The PA is not capable of making historic decisions based on concessions regarding basic Palestinian positions.
We have to assume Kerry and his advisers know all of this. They presumably also know how much Hamas has lost – on all fronts – as a result of the overthrow of its ideological cousins, the Moslem Brotherhood, in Egypt. And yet the US continues to press Israel as if coming to an understanding with Abbas and his PA is the Holy Grail.
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