Friday, December 03, 2004


Shaykh Hassan Yousef says Hamas would accept two-state solution

From Ha'aretz:
"Hamas has announced that it accepts a Palestinian independent state within the 1967 borders with a long-term truce," Sheikh Hassan Yousef, the top Hamas leader in the West Bank, told The Associated Press, referring to lands Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.


"For us a truce means that two warring parties live side by side in peace and security for a certain period and this period is eligible for renewal," Yousef said. "That means Hamas accepts that the other party will live in security and peace."
Now I can see two main paths that Israel can go with this.

The first would be counterproductive, I believe. That would be to say that you cannot take the word of Hamas seriously, you cannot negotiate with terrorists, and that this fundamnetally proves that Israel's military attacks against Hamas and the Palestinians in general has worked. I think if this is the path taken, there will be no two-state solution. While you can point to the "moderation" of Hamas, I think it is less the result of the military attacks by Israel (though they certainly had an impact) than the involvement of Hamas in the mainstream politics of the Palestinians. I would point more to the PA involving Hamas and other Palestinian factions in talks about Gaza after the disengagement (if it happens) and the involvement of Hamas in talks with other Palestinian factions in the wake of Arafat's death. And while Sharon's aggressive military policy has undoubtedly shaken Hamas (assassinating Yassin and Rantisi having the greatest impact I think), it has also not stopped attacks and I would argue that it has also served to destabilize Palestinian society and increase the militarization of other factions (notably Fateh and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades).

The second path Israel can take is to take this seriously as a sign of progress, to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority even if it has contacts with Hamas, even if at a later date Hamas members enter into local PA elections and hold positions or win seats. And Israel should recognize that it has an opportunity to have the majority of the Palestinian population backing a unified Palestinian leadership that accepts a two-state solution with Israel living in peace and security.

I think this second path is the most effective and useful path. But I do not think that it is going to be the path taken by the Likud. This is important because I think it should be the path taken by the Labor party. And I think that Labor should think about this before they take any steps to join a unity government with Likud. I think this unity does not help Labor to begin with (I think you just have to look a few years back to see that this was a bad path then). I think it exposes Labor as a very passive party, that cannot see itself as doing anything other than propping Sharon up when he is doing something it likes (i.e. disengagement) and grumbling to itself when he is doing things it doesn't. In any case, I think it is interesting that all the action is taking place on the Palestinian side these days, with the Israeli side crippled by in-fighting and factions jockeying for a piece of the pie.

Another thing I thought of today - both Marwan Barghouti and Mustafa Barghouti are running for president of the PA. I know that the US is a lot bigger than the occupied territories, but can you imagine the chaos if there were two presidential candidates with the same last name in the US? And with the same first initial? Oy vavoy, half of us wouldn't know what the hell to do (well, half of us would decide it would be easier to just stay home, but then half of the other half).

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