May 9, 2011

Hamas, Fatah and the UN: The Fix Is In

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

So Hamas and Fatah have reconciled just as the summer push gets underway to have the United Nations, when it convenes in September, recognize Palestine as the 193rd member of this august world body.  How nice.

The usual pontificators who find Israel to be a nuisance that would serve the world best by going away will wax eloquently about this historic moment that will, at long last, create the two-state solution and accomplish what the parties themselves have not been able to accomplish.  Some, no doubt, will support this initiative because they hope it will bring peace to the region.  Color them naïve…or just ignorant. Some will support this initiative because they have despaired of any other solution. Color them defeatist.  And, finally, some (more than we like to think) will support this initiative because they believe it will commence the demise of Israel. Color them honest.

The leaders of Fatah and Hamas, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Khaled Meshal, signed their reconciliation accord in Cairo last Wednesday.

According to Meshal, Hamas is interested in “closing ranks in order to create one entity, one organization and one decision, in order to realize the shared national aim of a sovereign, independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza − without one settler and without giving up even one piece of land or the right of return.” He called for forging a unified strategy that would force Israel to withdraw from what he and his European fellow travelers refer to as Palestinian land.  Just what Hamas really considers to be Palestinian land is the critical issue. Accepting a two-state solution in which Israel agrees to abide by the borders, as they existed forty-four years ago before the ’67 War, while the new Palestinian state covets the remainder of Israel does not augur well for peace in the region. That isn’t really a two-state solution. That’s a two-step maneuver toward a one-state solution.

Meshal has said in the past that Hamas is willing to pay any price for reconciliation with Fatah, and that its only battle is with Israel. And though he noted that many years have passed since negotiations with Israel began, he said that Hamas is prepared to give negotiations another chance.  But exactly what is it that Meshal is prepared to negotiate? More on that further down in this essay.

It would be a tragic mistake to view this campaign by Hamas and Fatah, as simply a misguided effort to score a diplomatic or procedural victory at the UN.  This is hardball and the stakes are grim.  Thus far, about 140 of the current 192 member states have gone on record supporting the recognition of Palestine with or without an agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.  The General Assembly would probably vote 90% for recognition if the resolution ever got out of the Security Council, which would have to first give its approval. In other words, only the United States with its veto power stands between a Palestinian state by fiat and a solution brought about by negotiation between the two parties – negotiations in which the Palestinians refuse to participate.  Then again, why should they participate in such negotiations when nearly every nation in the world is prepared to hand them statehood even though none of the critical issues between Israel and Palestine have been resolved.

But wasn’t Israel created by the United Nations during an intractable dispute between the Jews (Palestinian and immigrant) and the Palestinian Arabs, those sympathetic to this initiative are already asking.  Why can’t the United Nations do for the Palestinians what it did for the Jews sixty-five years ago?  Simple question. Simple answer: because the United Nations Resolution 181 to which they refer created both a Jewish state and an Arab Palestinian state.  The Jews accepted that two state solution, and the Arabs rejected it, and the Palestinian leadership refuses, to this day, to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.  That’s the difference between what the United Nations resolved to do sixty-five years ago and the reality that prevails on the ground today.  The resolution that will come before the United Nations next September will be to recognize as a member state a new nation with leadership sworn to the destruction of another member state. How’s that for advancing the cause of peace?

Let’s be specific.  Hamas and Fatah are feigning reconciliation so that they can present the appearance of solidarity to the world. Or, worse yet, perhaps solidarity has been achieved between the iron-hard, murderous and rejectionist Hamas and the merely intransigent and historically corrupt Fatah.  In either case, the chasm between the likelihood of peace and the reality on the ground is of cosmic proportions.  It is hard to imagine anything positive being born of this marriage.

As a “concession” Hamas has stated that it would abide by “a truce” between the new Palestinian state and Israel.  A truce! Not an end to the dispute, not an end to warfare, but a truce.  How’s that for progress? The region, as envisioned by Hamas would leap forward all the way back to 1948.  That would be when the first truce was declared between the infant Israeli state and its surrounding neighbors who had launched an invasion when Israeli independence was declared.   The main obstacle to peace then (and in our opinion now) was the continued rejection of the existence of a Jewish state.

Which brings us to the incurably problematic charter of Hamas, the new partner of the Palestinian Authority.  The Hamas charter is the ultimate inconvenient truth with which a Palestinian Authority angling for statehood must contend. The charter is little more than a Declaration of Jihad against Jews, Zionists, Crusaders (Christians) and anyone who “occupies” land that has, or had ever been, conquered by Islamic armies.  It is not a rhetorical document, nor merely a rallying cry nor a propaganda piece. It is a cause. It is their raison d’être.  They can no more repudiate their charter than we could repudiate our Declaration of Independence.  It is, most of all, a frank and honest statement of their intent. Let us take them at their word. Let us visit this founding document of Hamas.  Consider the following excerpts from the Hamas Charter and ponder how any political entity committed to such a mindset might find a place among the family of nations in the 21st century.

The Charter itself is thousands of words and we have excerpted but a few representative sentences and phrases. It is not an ancient document with harsh words about ancient enemies, but must be seen as a modern document penned by 21st century men with ancient and harsh convictions. 
The excerpts below are not quoted out of context.  They are, in fact, the very context of this outrageous screed.

”The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) is a distinct Palestinian Movement, which owes its loyalty to Allah, derives from Islam its way of life and strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine. Only under the shadow of Islam could the members of all regions coexist in safety and security for their lives, properties and rights.

…For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah’s victory prevails…

…Their (the Jews) scheme has been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present [conduct] is the best proof of what is said there. Leaving the circle of conflict with Israel is a major act of treason and it will bring curse on its perpetrators (emphasis added).

…The prophet…said: The time will not come (resurrection) until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!

… The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf (contract or gift that cannot be altered) and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. No Arab country or the aggregate of all Arab countries, and no Arab King or President nor all of them in the aggregate, have that right, nor has that right any organization or the aggregate of all organizations, be they Palestinian or Arab, because Palestine is an Islamic Waqf throughout all generations and to the Day of Resurrection. Who can presume to speak for all Islamic Generations to the Day of Resurrection? This is the status [of the land] in Islamic Shari’a, and it is similar to all lands conquered by Islam by force, (emphasis added) and made thereby Waqf lands upon their conquest, for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection.”

It is tempting to think that these are merely words that can be modified or abandoned in return for a two-state solution.  We don’t think so.  But if they are to be modified or abandoned, let the redrafting or abandonment of this document proceed before any further consideration of such a dangerous course by the United Nations.

Perhaps the most basic problem facing Israel and the Palestinians is that no Palestinian leader is prepared to say that any agreement between the two parties will end this long-standing dispute.  As Yasser Arafat told President Clinton twelve years ago at Camp David after he was offered nearly everything for which he was then, or Abbas is now, asking in return for ending the dispute once and for all, “I would be going back to my own funeral”(if he agreed that any accord ended the dispute).  It was people such as those who are feigning reconciliation with Fatah whom Arafat feared.

Events have conspired to isolate Israel more than at any time in recent memory.  The new crop of “democrats” maneuvering to lead Egypt now that Mubarak is gone all seem united in their confrontational rhetoric regarding Israel. As of March this year, more than 100 states had recognized the state of Palestine. According to a U.N. Security Council report issued Apr. 19, several European countries, including most recently Britain, have upgraded Palestinian diplomatic status.  The statehood initiative is designed to pit The United States against almost every nation in the world by forcing it to veto the resolution.  Most observers are sanguine in their certainty that America will veto any such resolution.  We hope they are right, but we wouldn’t bet the farm on it.


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3 responses to “Hamas, Fatah and the UN: The Fix Is In”

  1. irwin yablans says:

    Incisive commentary and dire possibilities.Will this initiative definitely be voted on in september? What if statehood is declared and recognized by the U.N? What are the practical implications?what happens to the “occupied lands”?If one takes the Hamas charter literally,there can be only one path,all out war…and that of course puts the U.S. into the conflict.Would the U.S. citizenry support the defense of Israel if it came to military assistance?
    What alternatives are there? Might the U.N. require a repudiation of the original Hamas charter’s rhetoric as a condition of recognition.Since this will be a palestinian coalition of sorts, there could be wiggle room for the new authority to state a different agenda. Is it still possible for the parties to negotiate a settlement before the vote,saving the U.S. from having to stand against the U.N. Decision?
    Very disturbing.

  2. mark j. levick says:

    It would be interesting to watch what happens if the United States agreed to the immediate establishment of a Palestinian State provided that the now united Palestinian factions agree on behalf of themeselves and their new State to unconditionally agree to maintain diplomatic relations with the State of Israel and acknowledge the legitimacy of UN Resolution 181’s establishment of Israel as a Jewish State. My guess is Hamas would refuse. Would Fatah? Will the US continue to fund the Palestinians in either event? Would the Muslim Broterhood support such a deal?

  3. Andrew Porter says:

    But what is the upshot of all this? How does the creation of a Palestinian state affect the security of the State of Israel? If anything, doesn’t it now force the PA/Hamas to police its borders?

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