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Friday, 30 January 2009

We are not talking about the destruction of Israel

Here is a novel idea:

Hamas (again) talks about a long term truce:

"We want to be part of the international community. I think Hamas has no interest now to increase the number of crises in Gaza or to challenge the world," Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told AP.

Hamas leaders in the past have spoken about a long-term truce with Israel, saying they want international recognition as much as an end to the blockade of the impoverished Gaza Strip.

Israel nonetheless abominates the notion of engaging the Palestinian resistance movement.

(Hamas offers long-term truce for Gaza freedom, Al Jazeera, 29 January, 2009).

From Ha'aretz:

Israel's position is based on the fact that Hamas refuses to recognize its right to exist. However, the three Hamas leaders interviewed said they would accept statehood in just the West Bank and Gaza and would give up their resistance against Israel if that were achieved.

"We accept a state in the '67 borders," said Hamad. "We are not talking about the destruction of Israel."

(Hamas: We will accept long-term truce if Gaza borders opened, Ha'aretz, 29 January 2009. )

The right to return is tied up in a lot of the statements about the "right to exist". The right to return is as follows from United Nations Resolution 194, from 1949, which:

Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

A recognised Israeli state means that the Palestinian people might then have to give up the right to return to lands they were expelled from, or might be seen as accepting this notion. If Hamas are accept[ing] statehood in just the West Bank and Gaza is this what they are implying? I might leave that one to the Mid-East scholars.

However, it seems moot to post the above as all discussions are being held with Fatah, the party that Israel would not engage with before Hamas, and a party who are widely seen as not necessarily representing the people (who did vote for Hamas). Of course "back door" negotiation will go on with Hamas through third parties.

Again from Ha'aretz, The champions of missed opportunities , there are the following words on why Israel might be so reluctant to negotiate (Avaraham Burg, January 16, 2009):

The truth is that we refuse to speak with them because we are incapable of speaking with ourselves. Every time we tried to make a mockery of them, we were pulling the wool over our own eyes. There are topics we have no problem discussing with the enemy: hummus, car repair shops and washing the floors. But when it comes to refugees and settlements, we don't have the courage to tell the truth to ourselves, nor are we ready to talk to ourselves about the part of the responsibility we bear for the refugee problem, its marginalization, political exploitation and the fact it remains unsolved to this day.

Nor are we ready to talk about the evacuation of settlers out of fear of the domestic price entailed in pulling out the agents of the occupation. We are incapable of acknowledging the fact that we have become a state of the settlers and that the Israel Defense Forces is the settler defense forces. Because of all these factors we are not talking to any Palestinian about anything of substance.

With Hamas, the conversation will be even more difficult. It will revolve around refugees, settlers, and one other thing: the religious dimension of the conflict. Are we really capable of holding a substantive dialogue about the religious significance of the conflict and the spiritual content of peace, or about how such an inter-religious dialogue will take shape in a time of war, or about the values of such a dialogue in a time of peace? Or about how all of us should put the genie of fanaticism back in the bottle?

Are there enough foundations in our midst that would allow for a non-violent religious protest against the faith-based murderousness that is killing our two nations and religions? For the time being, we don't have any. As a result, we are running away from the encounter, lest we be exposed as mutes or simpletons - or both.

As indicated above, who is not willing to negotiate? Who does not want peace in this region?

Here are a few more articles on similar topics. I have posted a number of them before. Quite a few are from Ha'aretz. I wonder if our papers will ever publish an article that comes even close to being as balanced as some of the Ha'aretz articles, even though it is an Israeli paper and naturally enough, presents the views of its country.

If we can kill them, we can talk to them

Birth pangs of a new Palestine

History did not begin with the Qassams

On the wrong side

Obama's Gaza Opportunity

Five questions for George Mitchell

The Conflict Within Hamas

The Gaza Boomerang

Israel wanted a humanitarian crisis

Oh, and here are these words of commonsense, too: Mitchell: Opening Gaza borders would help choke off Hamas smuggling, Ha'aretz, 29 January, 2009.

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this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr