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May 08, 2014 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-05-08

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Fatah-Hamas Accord Threatens Any Peace

alestinian unity talks have
pre-empted Israeli-Palestinian
peace talks, not only shutting
the marginal window of opportunity
on the already fragile peace process,
but also putting U.S. funding of the
Palestinian Authority (P.A.), which gov-
erns Palestinian-controlled areas of the
West Bank, into the glare of scrutiny by
the American people.
Congress and President Obama don't
have to act just yet; Fatah, the politi-
cal party in power within the RA., and
Hamas, the U.S.-, European Union- and
Israel-declared terrorist organization
ruling the Gaza Strip, might or might
not reunify after a seven-year split
within the self-imposed, five-week
On April 23, the Palestine Liberation
Organization (PLO), on behalf of the
P.A., signed a reconciliation agreement
with Hamas, no peace partner and, in
fact, a sworn enemy of Israel and the
Jewish people. The pact calls for devel-
oping an interim government that, in
turn, would create a framework for new
elections. It remains to be seen if that
will happen; three other reunification
attempts — in 2007, 2011 and 2012 —
failed. Palestinian elections were last
held in 2006.
Announcement of an interim gov-
ernment would mean the P.A. means
business in welcoming back Hamas,
whose charter calls for Israel's destruc-
tion and which celebrates the killing of
Israeli soldiers. Hamas defiantly contin-
ues to send rockets and missiles into
southern Israel. A show of unity should
bring an immediate cutoff of some
U.S. funds in the form of a significant
sanction against the Ramallah-based
P.A. Israel has threatened to withhold
customs and tax money to the tune of
$100 million monthly. The P.A. can't
possibly function to civilized standards
if bound at the political hip to Hamas.

k Bold Response

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the
top Democrat on the U.S. House
Appropriations Committee, already has
taken steps to seek
defunding of the P.A.
should actual reunifi-
cation come. The U.S.
allocates about $400
million yearly to the
P.A. and it's hard to
know how it's all being
spent. We'd be aghast
Nita Lowey
if the Al Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades, Fatah's ter-
rorist military wing, is a recipient.
Israel suspended peace talks with

40 ,ay 8 • 2014

the P.A. following
the reconciliation
agreement. The
Israeli government
rightly insisted P.A.
President Mahmoud
Abbas, who is PLO
chairman, couldn't
negotiate with Israel
while cozying up to
Hamas, which is com-
mitted by charter to Israel's destruc-
Integrating Hamas into Palestinian
governance will prove difficult. A
hypothetical Palestinian technocrat
government without direct Hamas
involvement, yet with its backing, likely
would allow the Obama administration
to pressure Israel to get back into talks,
Yossi Alpher, an Israeli strategic affairs
analyst, told JTA.
It's true Israel technically is nego-
tiating with the PLO, not the RA., so
a Palestinian technocrat government
would not have a Hamas component
— technically. But it's a pipedream to
imagine Hamas not influencing impor-
tant Palestinian decision making. Israeli
leaders insist with authority that a
Hamas role in Palestinian governance
in any capacity is off limits.

Watch Word Play
Remarkably, the P.A. says it is still
committed to negotiations with Israel,
despite lack of any progress when the
latest round of U.S.-brokered talks
ended with a whimper on April 29 —
with not even a hint of a framework
agreement in place to continue talking.
The talks essentially collapsed in mid-
April after Israel ignored a March 29
deadline to release the final 26 of 104
Palestinian prisoners it had pledged to
let go when talks reconvened last July,
and Abbas, in turn, applied to join 15
international conventions to win inter-
national recognition for statehood, in
violation of his agreement not to do so
amid talks.
On April 20, the eve of Yom HaShoah,
Abbas, in a curious change of heart
given his dismissive attitude toward
Hitler's fury, called the Holocaust "the
most heinous crime to have occurred
against humanity in the modern era."
Of course, he said nothing about
Hamas joining Tehran in being foremost
Holocaust deniers.

Staying Focused

Addressing the Anti-Defamation
League's annual National Leadership
Summit, Ron Dermer, Israel's U.S.
ambassador, warned of the technocrat

Ron Dermer

ploy: "It does not
matter to Israel if the
Palestinians establish
a technocratic gov-
ernment to serve as
a front that will say
all the right things. If
Hamas is in the back
office, Israel will not
be at the negotiating

There are good reasons for Israel
and the P.A. to maintain communica-
tion even if not formally negotiating:
security, freshwater, medical care,
cross-border jobs, even keeping con-
nections amenable for future resump-
tion of talks. Another key incentive
is to sustain interest in Ramallah and
Jerusalem in Palestinian economic
spurs, especially outside investment, to
improve conditions for the Palestinian
people, currently hamstrung by their
leaders' edicts.
Of course, there's always the remote
chance Hamas could revise its cov-

The P.A. can't possibly
function to civilized
standards if bound
at the political hip to

enant and recognize Israel, renounce
violence, abide by past Israeli-
Palestinian agreements and join the
P.A. in negotiating with Israel.
But we're stick-
ing with Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu's terse
assessment follow-
ing the Fatah-Hamas
pact: "He who chooses
Hamas does not want


Kerry Foolishly,
Invokes 'Apartheid'


.S. Secretary of State John
Kerry used a familiar refrain,
"apartheid," to describe the
dangers of a failed Israeli-Palestinian
peace process. And it got him in hot
water with Jewish groups and lawmak-
ers alike — as it should have.
The former U.S. senator, who says,
"I will not allow my commitment to
Israel to be questioned by anyone,"
certainly should know he, as a U.S.
statesman, has no business invoking
such an inflammatory and historically
inaccurate term.
"Apartheid" refers to a specific
system of racial segregation in South
Africa. The National Party govern-
ments enforced that system via legis-
lation from 1948 to 1994.
While noting that mainstream Israeli
leaders Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and
Tzipi Livni have all used the term in a
similar context to his, Kerry nonethe-
less clarified his take, saying April
28: "I have been around long enough
to also know the power of words to
create a misimpression, even when
unintentional, and if I could rewind the
tape, I would have chosen a different
word to describe my firm belief that
the only way in the long term to have

a Jewish state and
two nations and two
peoples living side
by side in peace and
security is through a
two-state solution."
Kerry originally
invoked the term in
an April 27 meet-
ing of the Trilateral
Commission, which includes senior
officials from the United States,
Europe, Russia and Japan, the Daily
Beast reported.
"A two-state solution will be clearly
underscored as the only real alterna-
tive," Kerry reportedly said, "because
a unitary state winds up either being
an apartheid state with second-class
citizens or it ends up being a state
that destroys the capacity of Israel to
be a Jewish state."
Kerry was wrong to only clarify why
he chose such an incendiary term; he
should have outright apologized. Israel
wasn't the one refusing to negoti-
ate. The frustrating and now stalled
peace process clearly has frustrated
the secretary of state. But that's no
excuse for such an egregious slip of
the tongue.

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