Thursday, April 24, 2014

24-Apr-14: Not so much unity on what unity means

Haniyeh of Hamas and Abbas of PA: United and reconciled
As of yesterday, Hamas is once again the intended business partner of the Fatah/PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority regime as it was in 2012, and 2011 and 2007

Mahmoud Abbas of the PA says the new, latest, all improved reconciliation agreement between his side and Hamas reached with Hamas "doesn't at all contradict with the peace negotiations with Israel". We admire his plain-talking assertiveness. But on this, he's talking self-evident nonsense

Israel's position was expressed via a unanimous Cabinet statement today: “It will not negotiate with a Palestinian government that incorporates Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks the destruction of Israel." Pretty clear.

Hamas? Yesterday, we shared some observations ["23-Apr-14: On the road to... what?"] about that regime's "foreign minister". Take a look. He appears to be a sincere man, totally devoted to violence, ideologically committed to making zero concessions, and unabashedly intent on more war and more destruction. If anyone seriously sees him as a peace-enabler, we're baffled.

Haniyeh of Hamas and Abbas of PA: United and reconciled
On the other side of the new united Palestinian Arab bloc, you need to look closely and frequently. Yesterday (just yesterday!), Mahmoud Abbas said he is on the verge of dissolving the PA and handing responsibility for the West Bank back to Israel. 

Do the pronouncements of his side's chief negotiator give a clue to what the Abbas/Fatah/PA really want? Does he see a partnership with Hamas and its sworn dedication to uprooting the Israelis by all possible means as any sort of problem in the peace race? 

Well, not really to judge from what we quoted here just a couple of weeks ago ["8-Apr-14: When PA's "peace" negotiator says Hamas savages are not terrorists, what does this say about "peace"?"]. 

To his credit, the loquacious Saeb Erekat actually says it in one concise sentence: "Hamas is a Palestinian movement, is not and will never be a terrorist organisation". So.

While Hamas is flatly opposed to any peace talks with Israel, over in Europe. the EU's foreign minister is saying today "the unity accord between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas" is welcome.  This is consistent with a long line of previous equally baffling Catherine Ashton pronouncements.

Haniyeh of Hamas and Abbas of PA: United and reconciled
And the United States - does it share Europe's sunny outlook? To judge from State Department statements today, noState's spokesperson said today (Thursday) that "the timing was troubling and we were certainly disappointed in the announcement". Her key sentence: "But I think the Secretary and we all understand it’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist." That's a turn of phrase that was repeated several times in today's media briefing. 

Does this mean something? Hard to know.

Outside the White House inner circle, other voices are likely have an influence on what happens next. For instance, the Republican Congresswoman who authored the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 called for an immediate suspension today of US aid to the PA. That law prohibits support for a "Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority". She happens to also chair the House Foreign Affairs panel on the Middle East. Her Democratic counterpart on that subcommittee supports her line, which means funding to the PA has to be considered at risk at this point.

We're staying tuned.

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