By Ted Belman
For those that have been holding out false hope, its over. Hamas and Fatah have negotiated a unification agreement under the auspices of Egypt and the Arab League. This agreement calls for elections in 8 to 12 months and precludes negotiations with Israel in the interim. They are working on setting up an interim government now.
Although this agreement is not yet finalized, it is clear that the change in government in Egypt made it possible. Egypt must have changed its conditions that were objectionable to Hamas.
Two weeks ago JPOST reported
Israel will stop dealing with the Palestinian Authority if it brings Hamas into the government, a senior government official said Saturday night, a few hours after PA President Mahmoud Abbas met in Ramallah with a senior Hamas delegation for conciliation talks.
“Abbas has to choose whether he wants peace with Israel, or peace with Hamas,” the official said. “He can’t have both. If he chooses peace with Hamas it will bury the peace process.”
“Netanyahu must choose between a just peace with the united Palestinian people … and settlements,”
So far as we know the agreement was silent on getting recognition of Palestine by the UN in September. Obama has not supported such an idea, favouring instead the Oslo process. But now it would appear that there will be no peace discussions until the next administrations, if ever.
The deal covered five points, including combining security forces and forming a government made up of “nationalist figures”.
“Our program does not include negotiations with Israel or recognizing it,” Zahhar said in Cairo. “It will not be possible for the interim national government to participate or bet on or work on the peace process with Israel.”
The US trained Arab security forces will now be amalgamating with Hamas. What will Obama have to say about that. Better still what will he do about it. And what will the West do about their requirement that Hamas recognize Israel, all past agreements and reject violence.
But more important, what will Israel do about it?
Thus, both sides have thrown down the gauntlet.
Hamas and Fatah now know the power of the street to topple governments in the ME. There is no question in my mind that they intend to develop a third intifadah along those lines. Israel must prepare for such a contingency just as they are preparing for additional attempts to break the blockade.
But these would be defensive strategies. Israel must go on the offensive. It must lift the de facto freeze on construction and annex the settlement blocks at a minimum.
So long as Netanyahu continues the freeze we must conclude that he has no intention of keeping the blocks. That will be the litmus test of his intentions. Before, his excuse for continuing it was that construction would upset the US and the peace process.
Now that there is no peace process, what’s the point of the freeze?