And why Abbas gets away with it.
In the wake of Fatah’s embrace of Hamas earlier this week there has been a very interesting reaction. Actually, the reaction has been interesting because it’s been mostly non-existent.
Though the New York Times and Washington Post have reported on Fatah’s betrayal of the American sponsored peace process, neither has published an angry editorial denouncing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for endangering or destroying the peace process. Few news events shatter perceptions more clearly than when a supposed moderate embraces extremism. And even given the fraught history of past Fatah-Hamas agreements the symbolism here is unmistakable. A week before Secretary of State John Kerry hoped to have a framework agreement, the Palestinian Authority came to an agreement with the terrorist Hamas organization and not with Israel.
Let’s do a few comparisons.
Exhibit A: New York Times
In March 2010, when Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel, Israel’s Interior Ministry announced plans to build houses in Ramat Shlomo. Even though Ramat Shlomo is part of Jerusalem and a part of Israel’s capital that everyone expects will be part of Israel in any final agreement with the Palestinians, the announcement precipitated a diplomatic crisis between Israel and the United States. An editorial in the New York Times two days later stated about the announcement, “And it is hard to see the timing as anything but a slap in the face to Washington.”
In 2010, the Israeli announcement didn’t and wouldn’t change anything about the Middle East materially and yet the New York Times criticized the Israeli action. That Fatah-Hamas agreement, on the other hand is a game-changer. Israel dropped its objections to the PLO when the PLO renounced terror. Of course, under Arafat that declaration was meaningless as he encouraged terror against Israel even after Oslo. Abbas was supposed to be the peaceful one. But now he’s embraced a terrorist organization.
Exhibit B: The Obama Administration
As noted above, the Ramat Shlomo announcement caused a diplomatic crisis between Israel and the United States. At the time, the New York Times reported Clinton Rebukes Israel on Housing Announcement. A paragraph in the article read:
Such blunt language toward Israel is very rare from an American administration, and several officials said Mrs. Clinton was relaying the anger of President Obama at the announcement, which was made by Israel’s Interior Ministry and which Mr. Netanyahu said caught him off guard.
What was the administration’s response the Fatah-Hamas agreement? As Daled Amos noted, there’s an expression of “disappointment,” but not of anger. There’s talk of “both sides exercis[ing] maximum restraint and avoid[ing] escalatory steps,” but that hardly conveys outrage when it is one side that undermined the very basis of the peace process.
Exhibit C: The European Union
Last week The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton made a statement condemning a fatal Palestinian terror attack and Israeli “settlement” activities. But as JoshuaPundit points out, the areas Ashton cited actually were Jewish owned until they were acquired by force, by the Arabs, in 1948. For example:
So in your world, Gush Etzion is a ‘settlement’ after decades of existence on legally purchased land, while a few caravans parked illegally for a matter of weeks on Israeli land with the EU’s connivance that you give the name of ‘Jabal Al Baba’ is a ‘community’? It seems obvious that you have one set of rules for Jews and quite another for everyone else,and there’s a word for that, isn’t there Lady Ashton? And isn’t it more than just a little hypocritical to ‘especially deplore’ the Israelis confiscating what was obviously an attempt by the EU to unlawfully create facts on the ground in what at best can be considered a ‘disputed’ area? If ‘humanitarian aid’ was the purpose, why not put those caravans somewhere in Area A, where the Palestinian Authority controls things? Again, one might almost suspect you of – heaven forbid – bias.
This week, according to news reports, Ashton is pleased with the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation.
“The EU’s top priority is that the current talks continue beyond April 29,” said a spokesman for EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton, referring to the deadline for a US-led effort to broker a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal.
“The EU has consistently called for intra-Palestinian reconciliation behind” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, spokesman Michael Mann said in a statement.
Such an understanding was “an important element for the unity of a future Palestinian state and for reaching a two-state solution [with Israel],” Mann added.
But Ashton, as the EU’s foreign minister, is also a party to the Quartet. The Quartet’s position is pretty clear as The Tower observed earlier this week.
It is the view of the Quartet that all members of a future Palestinian government must be committed to nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap. We urge both parties to respect their existing agreements, including on movement and access.
With no evidence that Hamas has changed its goals, the Fatah-Hamas agreement represents the radicalization of Fatah, not the moderation of Hamas. And while its true that the lack a unified leadership of the Palestinians undermines any hope for peace with Israel, it is also true that if the unified leadership doesn’t renounce terror or accept Israel, that also would extinguish any hope for peace.
The position of the EU endorsing the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement, as expressed by Ashton’s office, isn’t just illogical, it violates the principles the EU once claimed were necessary for peace.
Of course there’s a reason for the silence in the face of this Palestinian rejection of peace.
Ari Shavit noted in an article that Prof. Jacobson quoted yesterday:
Take heed: Twenty years of fruitless talks have led to nothing. There is no document that contains any real Palestinian concession with Abbas’ signature. None. There never was, and there never will be.
This is the reality that the peace processors refuse to accept. Since 1993 the Palestinians have made no significant, lasting concessions to Israel. (And the ones that they made were violated repeatedly.) If this is true they’ve been spinning their wheels for the past twenty years or more. It’s much easier to blame Israel that to re-examine their own assumptions. Israel can always be persuaded or pressured to make some concession to keep the illusion of a process going. So the charade continues.
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