The significance of the Palestinian unity agreement signed in Mecca is no longer in doubt.
In case anyone did not understand, Palestinian sources have made it abundantly clear. There are three important points. The first is that Abbas and the Fatah have capitulated to the Hamas. The second is that Palestinians aspire to get a state in 1967 borders and right of return, without recognizing Israel's right to exist. The third is that the new government will rely on Arab backing to make the Quartet boycott irrelevant.
In the struggle with Hamas, Abbas has thrown in the towel. As Palestinian commentator Ray Hanania observed
Today, with no sign of a possible peace accord on the horizon, thanks to Hamas intransigence on compromise, Hamas has forced the secular Palestinian leadership to surrender to its will...
In essence, Hamas has positioned itself to become the voice of the Palestinians. But rather than be a voice of reason, compromise and even tolerance of other views, Hamas will continue to pursue its "all or nothing" agenda...
The real war was a terrible burden, but it required the secular Palestinians to defeat the Hamas fanatics. Despite the pain of an internal Palestinian civil war, the question of whether the future would be in the hands of Hamas or Fatah was too important to sign away in some pathetic deal in which Abbas has basically surrendered his leadership.
According to Haaretz:
"Abbas told senior State Department official David Welch that the Mecca agreement was the only possible agreement and the world must deal with it, Abba aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh said, after the meeting in Ramallah with Welch. "
Saudi and Arab backing have now given the Palestinian authority the authority of a superpower, so that it can tell the USA where to get off. One can almost hear Yasser Arafat saying, "And anyone who doesn't like it can drink the waters of the Dead Sea."
Khaled Meshaal made the intent of the agreement clear when he wrote in the Guardian, under the title, Our unity can now pave the way for peace and justice:
Now that Hamas and Fatah have agreed to form a national unity government, the international community has no excuse to maintain the siege against our people...The Palestinian national accord achieved in Mecca envisages the establishment of a truly sovereign and independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in June 1967 - with Jerusalem as its capital, the dismantling of the settlements in the West Bank, the release of all Palestinian prisoners and the acknowledgement of the right of the refugees to return to their homes.
Hamas has reiterated, on the other hand, that they would never recognize the right of Israel to exist, even after this program is in place. So Meshal's program is "land and right of return" for nothing.
The Palestinians are counting on European donors to break the boycott, which will in any case be circumvented by Arab donations. That is what his quote from atah spokesman Mahir Moqdad in Maannews seems to mean:
"this government should have the right to have alternatives and substitutes instead of the siege lifting."
To be clear, it means that Fatah is saying that the Palestinians should have alternatives to agreeing to recognize the right of Israel to exist and to seek peace.
Therefore, it is alarming that the US and Israel behave almost as if nothing happened. Mahmoud Abbas is still considered a "peace partner" and Condoleezza Rice says:
"I think that we can continue to work with Abu Mazen, continue to discuss with Abu Mazen, continue to explore with Abu Mazen..."
How can the US and Israel "continue to work" with a peace partner who has signed an agreement not to seek peace? The Palestinian unity deal presents a new reality to the Americans and to Israel. If they are not proactive in meeting it, the Palestinians and their Arab world allies will make the road map, the Quartet and the US irrelevant. They will establish a de facto Palestinian state that will enjoy the support of the Arab world, Africa, China Russia and perhaps the EU. They will press on relentlessly with their programs of "resistance" and "land and right of return" for nothing.
Unfortunately, it seems that at the summit meeting held today, neither Israel nor the US presented the Palestinians with anything new. Stonewalling and appeals to the roadmap are not enough, because the roadmap will soon be irrelevant. For all intents and purposes, when he signed the Mecca agreement, Abbas declared the end of the roadmap, and the end of the peace process. He as much as said "I am not a peace partner." Getting Abbas out of the clutches of the Hamas, if it is at all possible, requires both a very big stick and a very big carrot. The "political horizon" in either case must be very clear. In the absence of such a program, it would have been better to have cancelled this trilateral summit, than to make an exhibition of the futility of Israeli and American policy.
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Replies: 1 Comment
War and hating have always been the easy option. It seems that the Palestinian leadership have baulked at the challenges the "peace" process posed them. I am not surprised really, in hindsight the signs have probably always been there.
As for the Palestinian position I am reminded of an old IRA song, "we're on the one road, it maybe the wrong road, but we're together now so who cares".
Rod Davies, Thursday, February 22nd
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