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At least, the dominant Israeli perception is that the PLO’s morphing into Hamas would mean the end of what’s left of that “process.” As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in response to Doha:
the Palestinian Authority must choose between an alliance with Hamas and peace with Israel. Hamas and peace do not go together…. I say to Abu Mazen [Abbas]: You cannot hold the stick by both ends. It is either peace with Hamas or peace with Israel; you cannot have it both ways.
The problem is that the international community, which Netanyahu has striven to keep on his side, is already reacting much less unequivocally.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in response to the Doha deal: “questions of Palestinian reconciliation are an internal matter for Palestinians.” A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the EU “looks forward to continuing its support.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Abbas to tell him to stay on the path of “peace”—with Hamas at his side.
Netanyahu, no doubt, has criticized Abbas and Fatah’s gross travesties of “peace” as well—as in recent egregious instances of Abbas’s photo-op in Turkey with a Palestinian child-murderer, the Palestinian Authority mufti’s calling for the genocide of Jews, and PA TV’s glorification of the Fogel family murderers. At the same time, though, Netanyahu has toed the international community’s line of casting Abbas and Fatah as his peace partner and the potential rulers of a state living in “peace” beside Israel.
If the Doha deal progresses, the same international community that has learned to excuse all Fatah outrages is likely to start showing leniency to Hamas as well—especially if it assumes the PLO trappings. It looks like it’s time, then, for Netanyahu to come cleaner not only about Hamas but the Palestinian “partner” in general.
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