Initially, the news that the Hamas and Fatah had agreed to support the Palestinian Prisoner's document was interpreted by some as meaning that the Hamas has softened its stand and is recognizing Israel. This was soon denied explicitly by Hamas spokespersons.
Since then it was announced that the Prisoners' document
, never very favorable to peace, was revised. It was this revised version that was agreed to by Hamas. Examination of the revision reveals what is certainly a debacle for peace hopes.
The major changes in the document (additional text in BOLD)
1- Omission of reference to national and democratic nature of Palestinian movement in the new document, in keeping with Hamas nationalist ideology.
2. This wording, reinforcing the claim for a right of return of Palestinian refugees, and emphasizing national unity, is added in the introduction:
and based on the principle saying that rights donít fall by law of limitations, and on the basis of no recognition of the legitimacy of occupation and for the sake of reinforcing the internal Palestinian front.
3. Commitment to literal right of return is emphasized in article 1: "and to secure the right of return for refugees to their homes and properties from which they were evicted and to compensate them
4. Commitment to UN resolutions and international law is "limited" by the following assertion, not present in the original:
"all of this is based on the historical right of our people on the land of our forefathers and based on the UN Charter and international law and legitimacy in a way that does not affect the rights of our people.
Abbas was given the authorization to negotiate for these demands on behalf of the Palestinian people, but it is an empty concession. The wording wipes out all of the progress made toward peace since 1988, when Yasser Arafat, at the insistence of the United States, recognized UN Resolution 242, granting implicitly that Israel has the right to exist. It does so by insisting that "international legitimacy" is recognized only insofar as they do not interfere with what the Hamas considers to be Palestinian rights. Hamas has declared repeatedly that all of Palestine is a holy waqf (religious endowment) given by Allah to the Muslim people, and that none of it may be surrendered. The document, in its revised form, also makes it absolutely clear that the Palestinians demand the right of refugees to return to "their homes" - within the state of Israel. Right of Return cannot be implemented in the framework of a Palestinian state. Those homes do not exist for the most part. "Return" of several million Arab Palestinian refugees would wreck the Jewish state of course.
Hamas did not accept PLO requirements that it declare that it would respect all agreements concluded by the PLO. The document also contains wording that insists on continuation of terror attacks in the West Bank and Gaza, and doesn't rule out terror attacks anywhere else either:
3- The right of the Palestinian people to resist and to uphold the option of resistance of occupation by various means and focusing resistance in territories occupied in 1967 in tandem with political action, negotiations and diplomacy whereby there is broad participation from all sectors in the popular resistance.
It is likely that great efforts will now be made to market Hamas - Fatah -PLO agreement on this document as an indication that the Hamas is now "legitimate." What has happened is the opposite.
By all indications, Hamas has swallowed Abbas and is on the way to swallowing the PLO, replacing the secular nationalism of Yasser Arafat (wiped out of the document) with its radical Islamist program.
The adoption of the Prisoners' document did look like a stroke of genius for Abbas for a while, and seemed to sow confusion in the ranks of the extremists for a few weeks. It doesn't seem to have lasted. Too bad.
There was a old gent named Abbas;
Who smiled as he rode on Hamas.
They came back from the ride;
With Abbas inside,
And the smile on the face of Hamas.
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