Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hamas, Israel and a lasting peace

Khaled Meshal, the Hamas Chairman (leader) paid a visit to Gaza yesterday.  He had some interesting things to say, including the line below.

“Palestine, from the river to the sea, from north to south, is our land, not an inch of it can be conceded.”

Many commentators like to argue that Hamas has moderated its tone and substance in recent years. They suggest that Hamas is more open to compromise and negotiation with Israel in pursuit of a durable, long term two state solution. This analysis is flawed. For Hamas, the solution for peace is to drive Israel into the Mediterranean Sea. In short, the group retains an existential commitment to the destruction of Israel.

This commitment was first enshrined in the highly anti-Semitic 1988 Hamas covenant. An organizing statement which included the affirmation that:

'[Peace]  initiatives... are in contradiction to the  principles  of the Islamic Resistance Movement...  There is no solution for the Palestinian problem  except  by Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility.'

There are positives - the fundamentals of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement are already largely agreed upon - see David 2000 and Olmert 2008. Unfortunately, the ability to reach a final deal is made exceptionally difficult by intransigents on both sides. I say both sides, because when Hamas spouts its idiocy about the destruction of Israel, those words empower Israeli extremists who also oppose peace.

While I believe that a peace deal will be achieved in the next fifteen years, I also strongly believe that such a deal will be impossible until Hamas either loses power or relinquishes the most extreme tenets of its ideology or, is just ignored by the Palestinian Authority.

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