Palestinian unity is path to peace

7 May

Online Opinion, 7 May 2014

If Israeli leaders are worried about a Palestinian unity government, they should look in the mirror. If they are worried about the forbidden apartheid word, they should look out the window.

When Benjamin Netanyahu alleged that ‘Abu Mazen has chosen Hamas and not peace,’ Palestinians enduring daily occupation asked: what peace?
If the continuing construction of Israeli settlements, home demolitions and military raids are ostensibly the hallmarks of ‘peace’, then Palestinians cannot be blamed for seeking alternatives. These actions in themselves have ‘essentially buried’ any remnants of a peace process.

It appears that no matter what Palestinians do, apart from capitulation, they are always the villains, never the victims.

If Palestinians embark on armed resistance or intifada, they are terrorists.

If a non-government movement embarks on a non-violent civil resistance or BDS, they are anti-Semitic.

If Hamas is democratically elected in Gaza as they were in 2006, they are blockaded.

If Fatah rivals Hamas as it did since 2007, it is rendered as impotent and illegitimate.

If Fatah reconciles with Hamas, they are anti-peace.

While the Netanyahu government rejects Hamas for refusing to recognise Israel’s right to exist, it refuses to recognise Palestine’s right to exist along the 1967 borders.

The US has threatened to stop providing aid to the Palestinian Authority unless three conditions are met: recognise Israel, renounce violence and accept previous agreements. The fact that these reciprocal stipulations are not imposed on Israel highlights the bias of the peace broker.

Netanyahu would be hypocritical to threaten a Palestinian national unity government when his own Likud-led coalition announced a similar pact with Shaul Mofaz, chairman of the opposition Kadima party, exactly two years ago.

His current cabinet includes head of the Jewish Home Party, Economy Minister Neftali Bennett, who has publicly called for the unilateral annexation of Area C which is 60% of the West Bank. He has vowed that “a Palestinian state means no Israeli state. That’s the equation … There is not going to be a Palestinian state within the tiny land of Israel.” With these one state solutions declared by Palestine’s peace partner, is there anything left to negotiate? Should Netanyahu be given an ultimatum to choose between peace with Palestinians or these partners: “You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace, so far he hasn’t done so.”

His cabinet also includes Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who opposed a 2003 amnesty of 350 detained Palestinians: “It would be better to drown these prisoners in the Dead Sea if possible, since that’s the lowest point in the world.”

Apparently, only the Hamas rhetoric is an obstacle to peace, as the national unity governments of Israel are internal affairs.

In Cairo in 2011, an attempt at rapprochement by the two Palestinian factions failed to fulfil the accord. Hamas is now forced into a compromising position because its ally, the Muslim Brotherhood, has been ousted in Egypt and their smuggling tunnels to Gaza have been blocked. The misery and poverty of Gazans has necessitated negotiation and further compromises may follow.

Talking peace with a united and elected Palestinian government is not the beginning of the end. It is the epitome of democracy and the perfect climate for honest dialogue.

With elections in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine pending, Israel has long lost its monopoly as the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’. While US Secretary of State John Kerry cannot rewind the tape on his ‘apartheid’ slip, it will continue to be a self-fulfilling prophecy if Israel does not rewind the shrinking map of Palestine.

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