Hamas and the “Peace Process”

hamasThe Palestinians have thrown a monkey wrench in the works again —  as they have a pattern of doing every time the “peace process” is supposed to be close to “solving” the problem.

Despite the secrecy surrounding the current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry-sponsored talks, a Palestinian leak Sunday put positions on the table: a 1.9% land swap; no Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley and no Israeli presence at all in East Jerusalem; control over water sources and resources; control of the Dead Sea and border crossings; the right to sign agreements with other states (Iran?); release of all Palestinian prisoners; and the right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to choose to live in Israel or the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinians know that all of these will be unacceptable to Israel. The process on the Palestinian side appears to be a fraud, designed to produce failure because the Palestinian Authority (PA) cannot afford a success with Israel in the absence of an agreement with Hamas.  The PA fears exposing the fact that it does not have functional control of the Gaza Strip and 1.66 million people it claims to represent. And not only does it NOT represent them, the government of Gaza – Hamas – explicitly rejects rule by the PA.

The minimal Palestinian position has always included the assumption that “Palestine” would consist of ALL the territories acquired by Israel in 1967; the West Bank AND Gaza Strip (the 1.9% swap would not change that). But while the UN may treat the Palestinian Authority and Abu Mazen as the political representative of Gaza (as the General Assembly did when it voted to treat “Palestine” as a State), it is not. Furthermore, the term of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas expired several years ago; as there have been no new elections, he does not have any legal authority to negotiate or make decisions on behalf of the the Palestinian Authority in the first place.  Further, as the loser in the brutal and bloody civil war of 2007, Abbas’s Fatah is non grata in Gaza, and Hamas officials have insisted they would not be bound by any agreement reached with Israel.

The question is how to deal with that.

Any actual “peace agreement” would expose Abbas as the naked Emperor in Gaza. Perhaps Fatah plans simply to ignore its geographic and political limitations. Perhaps Abbas assumes Israel will continue to defend itself from Hamas, and thus “Palestine” can complain about Israeli military activity without having to exercise sovereign control of its borders.  Perhaps it is banking on the talks failing; perhaps it is ensuring that the talks fail. At worst, the U.S. would be unhappy but not surprised; at best, Israel would be blamed.

The United States, for its part, has evidently been choosing to ignore open warfare by Hamas against Israel, and insisting instead that the “solution” to the Palestinian problem will be found between Ramallah and Jerusalem (or Tel Aviv, as the administration insists).  This view, if nothing else, explains a senior American official claiming to be “shocked” by the latest discovery of Hamas tunnels burrowed into Israel.

Why would the United States be shocked by the discovery of a mile-long tunnel 60 feet underground, running 1,500 feet into Israel, and complete with lights and a trolley track?  Did the U.S not think Hamas would find a military use for the concrete building slabs Israel was harangued into providing for “civilian” housing in Gaza by Western “humanitarian” organizations? Does the U.S. believe that Hamas only built tunnels to import cigarettes and cooking oil to offset the Israel-Egypt blockade? Surely the State Department knows that even at the height of the Hamas rocket war, Israel did not permit hunger in Gaza, and that the blockade by Israel off the coast of Gaza existed to protect itself against arms smuggling. The American government could not have thought Hamas had given up trying to capture the next Gilad Shalit for murder or mayhem; Hamas publicly announced its intention to kidnap more Israeli soldiers, and the number of attempts rose in 2013.  The ransom Israel paid for Shalit only made the next IDF soldier an even more tempting target.

Ignoring the war is foolish: it continues apace. In the past two weeks, aside from the tunnels (plural, a second explosives-laden tunnel was found less than a week after the first):

  • The IDF found a powerful bomb planted near the fence separating Gaza from southern Israel.
  • The latest Hamas cartoon on al Aqsa TV lauds the Izz Adin Al-Qasam Brigades. The hero tells worshipful children, “Thousands of young fighters are prepared to be martyred for the sake of Allah, until this land is liberated. The Al-Qassam army is well-organized, new young recruits join and weapons are developed… Al-Qassam is a powerful tenacious rival, whose men are heroes, educated in the mosques and possessing the spirit of Jihad… The courageous Al-Qassam Brigades are the knights defending the homeland.”
  • The IDF announced that Fatah uncovered a Hamas drone factory on the West Bank, intending to launch weaponized drones into Israel.

To believe Hamas attacks, and preparation for attacks, on Israel can be curtailed by the political process misunderstands the nature of the so-called “Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

As an ideological matter, both Fatah and Hamas seek to reverse what they believe was an historic mistake by the United Nations in 1947 when it accepted Israel into the family of independent nations. Both continue to seek ways to hurt, harass, diminish, and delegitimize Israel, and both teach their children that the conflict will never end with a Jewish State of Israel living peacefully in the Middle East. Both Fatah and Hamas remain committed to “armed resistance,” although Abu Mazen uses diplomacy as well, promising to use the Palestinians’ new UN status to push for punitive measures against Israel.

As a practical matter, both sides of the bifurcated Palestinian government have sought to cultivate dependency and remove opportunities for legitimate Palestinian economic advancement. [Everything that follows in this paragraph and the next are the explanation: there was economic activity, then the intifada.] There was a time Gaza was open to Israel, and Palestinians crossed the border regularly to work.  There was an airport and a fully functional port. In mid-2000, 136,000 Palestinians were working inside Israel – 40% of all employed Palestinians. Another 5,000 worked in the joint Israeli/Arab run Erez Industrial Zone in the Gaza Strip. Thousands more worked in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in Israeli-owned businesses.

Yasser Arafat’s so-called “second intifada,” beginning in late 2000, killed more than 1,000 Israelis, and changed Israel’s focus from economic advancement and integration with the Palestinians into “security first.” The Erez Industrial Zone was closed after Israelis were murdered there, and the Disengagement of 2005 ended Israel’s employment of Gaza Palestinians and any residual Israeli influence. The civil war in 2007 ended any residual Fatah influence, while Hamas continues to make political inroads in the West Bank (how did that drone factory get there?).

The Gaza Strip can neither be incorporated into the “peace process” nor ignored. The culture of violence and hatred engendered by Hamas married to political success if Fatah achieves Palestinian independence would be dangerous for Israel.  The Hamas-Fatah rift that a Fatah-Israel deal would expose would be more dangerous for Fatah.  Watch for more wrenches in the works.

Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center in Washington, DC.

  • Mladen_Andrijasevic

    How long will we keep ignoring what they believe in?

    It’s time for Israel to talk to Hamas says A.B. Yehoshua

  • Ken Kelso

    More Evidence that Palestinians are Religious Nazis
    August 20, 2013
    Itamar Marcus

    Palestinian Moderates Are Still Genocidal
    August 26, 2013 By Itamar Marcus

    • ObamaYoMoma

      A moderate Muslim by definition is a blasphemous apostate that according to the texts and tenets of Islam must be executed. Moreover, an apostate is hardly a Muslim. They are ex-Muslims instead. Apparently, Itamar has a few things to learn about Islam. Either that are he is paralyzed by political correctness. Like the writer, he mistakenly conflates what is really jihad (holy war) as somehow being terrorism and therefore doesn’t have a clue.

    • defcon 4

      Sarcastically speaking, most Nazis were moderate and had nothing to do w/the Holocaust. We should make an attempt not to demonize all nazis for the actions of a few Nazists or extremists.

      • Boris Badenov

        Tis true but the naziz kept their worst murderous activities secret from the civilians.
        See the t4 plan for mentally ill people .
        Hitler enabled their deaths by doctors.
        Doctors! Of all people and, the doctors liked the t4 plan!

  • Ken Kelso

    If the Arabs were there first, why is the Dome of the Rock built on top of the Temple Mount instead of the other way around??
    “You got some explaining to do, Mohammad”

    • ObamaYoMoma

      Trust me, being Arab has nothing whatsoever to do with the jihad the Islamic world is waging against the infidel state of Israel. Indeed, are the Iranians Arabs? How about the Pakistanis and Afghanis? How about the Somalis and Chechens? How about the Sudanese and the Indonesians?

    • Rachel Levy

      The antiIsrael proterror crowd know that but could care less. They want Israel destroyed and another Holocaust to happen to the Jews. I thought at one time like most people that the majority of antiIsrael sentiment was by naive,gullible people who didn’t know better,and there might be a very small minority that are like that today,but the overwhelming majority really just hate Jews and use their Palestinian political rights activism as a smokescreen to hide their antijewish feelings. Now instead of looking like the evil racist they really are they[think they can look like noble peace activists trying to help poor,oppressed Arabs who lost their lands]but their not fooling people who have TRUTH on their side.

  • StanleyT

    On the subject of the US ignoring Hamas, a very interesting observation from fresnozionism.org (a great site for those of us who think Israel is a good thing):

    ” …concrete and potent support that the Palestinian Arabs receive from their strongest supporter and closest ally in the world: the United States of America.

    “Let’s just look at what the PLO entity gets from the US: the great majority of its financial support, both direct aid and training for its army (excuse me, ‘security forces’); money to pay the salaries of PA workers (mostly ‘security forces’) including those in Israeli prisons for terrorism and murder, and those in Hamas-ruled Gaza; and contributions to UNRWA, the agency that maintains the refugee camps where residents are paid to have children that the Arabs will never allow to be resettled anywhere but Israel, and where they are taught to hate Jews and Israel in UN schools.

    “That’s only money. There is also the unrelenting political pressure on Israel to make concessions like freezing construction, releasing prisoners and ceding land, regardless of the fact that extreme PLO positions on issues absolutely fundamental to peace never change. There is the refusal to acknowledge Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.

    “And we can’t forget that in the periodic regional wars that the Arab nations and Iranian proxies launch against Israel, the US steps in and stops the fighting when Israel is on the verge of a decisive victory. Each time Israel prevails, but the US always makes sure there will be a next time.

    “Peace does not only come from diplomacy or agreements. More often, historically, lasting peace comes about because one side defeats the other. Chamberlain and Stalin signed ‘peace’ agreements with Hitler, but peace did not arrive until Russian tanks entered Berlin. And who is preventing Israel from defeating its enemies conclusively? Who is propping them up and giving them hope that they will win in the end? The United States of America.”

  • ObamaYoMoma

    I hate to rain on the writer’s parade, but Muslims aren’t terrorists reacting in response to Western provocations or in the case of Israel, to harsh Israeli policies. Instead, Muslims are jihadists actively waging jihad (holy war) against all religions and all infidels to ultimately make Islam supreme, and that’s what the perpetual jihad (holy war) the so-called Palestinians have been waging against the infidel state of Israel has been all about since the very beginning.

    Indeed, the so-called Palestinians are the proxies of the Islamic world, and furthermore it is impossible for there to be peace between Muslims and infidels unless and until those infidels have been subjugated into Islamic totalitarianism via jihad and the imposition of Sharia (Islamic totalitarian law). As the sole fundamental purpose of Islam is the subjugation of all religions and all infidels into Islamic totalitarianism through both violent and non-violent jihad and the eventual imposition of Sharia (Islamic totalitarian law) in order to make Islam supreme.

    As a matter of fact, the so-called peace process itself is nothing but non-violent stealth and deceptive jihad utilized deceptively to weaken the infidel state of Israel.

    • bill reitzes

      Right on here mate.
      As you state, the Pals are proxies of the Islamic world and better yet for the Islamic world, we, you and I, are paying to keep them on the dole, instead of letting the Pals suck off the resources of the Islamic world.
      And we keep paying for this charade.

    • Shoshana Bryen

      You’re not raining, YoMoma – I agree that Israel’s policies (and US policies) aren’t the cause of ME violence – which is why the “peace process” (always in quotation marks) is a fraud from the get-go. Fatah doesn’t want to come too close to “solving” the problem because then it has to admit that it isn’t Israeli borders, or policies, that ARE the problem. The problem is the existence of Israel.

    • Boris Badenov

      Muslims hate without any conditions.
      They are insane.

  • vladimirval

    I am perplexed when I hear apparently smart people refer to the “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians. What is each side trying to accomplish? The word “peace” when spoken by anyone in the enlightened Western World means a secession of hostilities, mutual respect by both parties, and willingness to accept the existence of each party involved. The Islamists have no desire for coexistence with anyone or anything not submitting to Islam. Their version of “peace” is the eradication or subjugation of all and installation of a Caliphate with Sharia Law. That according to the Koran is “peace”. There can never be an agreement among parties that do not have the same goals.

    • Shoshana Bryen

      That’s why its in “” – there is no actual process by which any two parties deeply committed to a position (jihad, Palestinian nationalism, American security, whatever) voluntarily give it up for something called “peace.” “Peace” is not a negotiable property – it is, as Machiavelli said, the conditions imposed by the winner on the loser of the last war. You can have all kinds of peace, but not until the war is over.

      • vladimirval

        I partially agree with your comment. During a military conflict where each side is determined, an armistice is called. That is not a peace treaty. What you are describing is imposition of will of one on an other. It is not only noble but possible for two sides to come to agreement without one being a threat to the other. If the goals of each party are 180 degrees apart with no chance of moderation, defeat of one side is the only way to end a conflict.

        • Shoshana Bryen

          An armistice can only happen when both sides agree – specifically, when the one who has the upper hand in the fighting agrees. The First Gulf War ended with an armistice because the US-led coalition decided not to continue to Baghdad. But because it was only an armistice, not the end of the war, the US found itself (or made itself) fighting again in 2003. There is no case of an armistice being successful if one side doesn’t want to stop fighting. That would be the position of Hamas with Israel – Hamas doesn’t choose to stop, so you can’t “impose” an armistice. And there is no case I can think of where countries with incompatible positions just give them up for “peace.”

  • Rachel Levy

    She’s right in everything she said except one thing,the intifada killed almost 2,000 Israelis, not 1,000,and injured tens of thousands more.

    • Shoshana Bryen

      Thank you for the compliment, Rachel, but the toll was 1063 (731 civilians and 332 military). That’s the equivalent of 40,000 American deaths; a population ratio of 1:40 – something the American people would not have stood for.