A selection of news from the past day makes the point better than our commentary can.
Hamas: Interim Palestinian Government Not Able to Work on Peace with Israel
Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader who participated in the reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas, said on Wednesday, "Our program does not include negotiations with Israel or recognizing it....It will not be possible for the interim national government to participate or bet on or work on the peace process with Israel." [Reuters-Ha'aretz]"Palestinians Prefer Peace with Hamas over Peace with Israel"
Senior Fatah official Tawfiq Tirawi said Thursday, "If Israel thinks we have to choose between peace with it and peace with Hamas - any Palestinian you ask will tell you we prefer Palestinian unity over peace with Israel." The fact that Hamas is largely considered by the international community as a terror group was never a factor. "No Palestinian group is a terror organization in our eyes," he added. [Ynet]
The Palestinian reconciliation deal, if realized, heralds the takeover of the Palestinian national movement by Hamas. A "unity government" or "technocracy" - as the Palestinians called it - is a nice but empty headline. In real life, there is no a-political rule and there are no egalitarian governments. There is always a ruling side with partners being dragged behind it. The stronger, more organized, better armed side, i.e., Hamas, will rule the Palestinian Authority and the PLO. The Palestinian reconciliation deal justifies Netanyahu's warnings that any territory vacated by Israel will fall into Hamas hands and become an Iranian terror base. It strikes any proposals for interim agreements and unilateral withdrawals, intended to appease the world, off the agenda. [Aluf Benn in Haaretz]Fayyad Will Not Be in New PA Government
Azzam al-Ahmad, the Fatah negotiator of the agreement with Hamas, said that Salam Fayyad, the prime minister in the West Bank who is despised by Hamas but trusted by Washington, would not be part of the interim government. [Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner in the New York Times]Palestinians Launch Their Revolution
It's not yet certain that a political deal announced Wednesday by the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions will stick - similar pacts have been proclaimed and then discarded several times in the last four years. But one thing is sure: If Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas moves forward with the reconciliation with the Islamic Hamas movement, it will mean he has written off the Obama administration and the peace process it has tried to broker, once and for all. The reconciliation could mean the end of the West Bank administration headed by Salam Fayyad, a technocrat highly respected by both Americans and Israelis. If so, Congress will almost certainly suspend $400 million in annual U.S. aid. It could also mean the reorganization of Fatah's U.S.-trained security forces, which have worked with Israel to keep the peace in the West Bank for the last several years, and their eventual integration with the cadres of the Iranian-backed Hamas. [Jackson Diehl in the Washington Post]Hamas-Fatah Pact: Is the Peace Process Over?
Former Israeli ambassador to the UN, Dore Gold, noted: "Hamas is an international terrorist organization, period. That is not just an Israeli determination but the opinion of the EU and the U.S. government. There are no diplomatic acrobatics that are possible which could make an organization that has been committed to suicide bombing attacks and rocketing Israeli civilians into a partner for peace... Will the PA now release from prison Hamas terrorists who were engaged in attacks on Israel? The PA security apparatus, which is generally praised by Western observers, will have no value if those engaging in terroristic activities are not indicted, tried and put into prison, because of the new political ties with Hamas." [Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post]Ramallah residents wary of unity deal
The atmosphere in Ramallah following the announcement of the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas was not particularly festive on Thursday morning, as residents expressed skepticism at the pact's chances of success... "It's all nonsense, this agreement won't be successful," said Jamil Jobra, a Ramallah resident. "It will hold for maybe a month or two, not more. There is a very large gap between the sides... "Hamas has only one way, and it's the way of terrorism, not the way of peace," another resident added. [Elior Levy on Ynet]And this to complete the gloom:
UN Security Council Fails to Condemn Syria
The UN Security Council failed to agree on a European and U.S.-backed statement condemning Syrian violence against peaceful protesters on Wednesday, with Russia saying Syria's actions don't threaten international peace. China and India called for a peaceful resolution of the crisis, while Lebanon's UN ambassador stressed the country's special relationship with Syria. Syria's UN ambassador welcomed the council's inaction, blaming the violence on "extremist groups." (AP)On the other hand, the BBC is reporting in the past hour that some 200 members of Syria's ruling Baath party "...are reported to have resigned over the violent crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrations". What do local Syrian insiders, living their lives under the jackboots of Assad's troopers, know that the experts sitting at UN headquarters don't?