Palestinian 'Reconciliation' a Blessing in Disguise?

Why the death of the "peace process" farce may benefit the Netanyahu government in dealing with Iran.

On Monday, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas let the cat out of the bag again. In the presence of Qatar’s rabidly anti-Israel Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa, and alongside Hamas’s exiled Politburo chief, Khaled Meshal, Abbas’s Fatah party signed a reconciliation agreement with Hamas, paving the way for the formation of a Palestinian unity government. With the stroke of a pen, Abbas’s prior assertion that “there are no more differences between [Fatah and Hamas]” was sanctified. Abbas officially considers as a primary Palestinian aim the annihilation of Israel.

And to alleviate all doubt (or misplaced hope), when asked the next day whether the reconciliation agreement would “moderate” Hamas, Political Bureau member Izzat al-Rishq declared: “The Palestinian people maintain their right to all forms of resistance, and we are committed to armed resistance…to confront the…Zionist enemy’s plans.” Abbas is now openly complicit in this murderous endeavor.

As for the so-called “international community,” the response was relatively muted.

A spokesman at the US mission in Tel Aviv said the Obama administration would not articulate a “formal position on a speculative event,” but rather would “wait to see what happens.”

If only Israel’s “speculative” approval of the construction of a few hundred houses in its capital city drew such remarks.

Surprisingly, the EU also refrained from assuming an official stance. However, given the EU’s reaction in November following a previous round of reconciliation talks—“[the EU has] consistently called for reconciliation under Abbas’ authority”—no doubt the Europeans still consider Hamas’s inclusion in Palestinian politics as “an opportunity rather than a threat,” as well as, incredibly, and without justification, “essential for securing a lasting peace with Israel.”

Less surprising was UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s message to Abbas: Fatah’s reconciliation with a terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction should not be viewed as contradictory or mutually exclusive from negotiating with the Jewish state. In a twisted sense, Ki-moon is correct. Abbas’s partnership with genocidal Hamas will in no manner affect his policy of rejecting direct negotiations with Israel.

For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu left little to the imagination: “Hamas is a terrorist organization that strives to destroy Israel, and which is supported by Iran. I have said many times in the past that the Palestinian Authority must choose between an alliance with Hamas and peace with Israel. Hamas and peace do not go together.… If Abu Mazen [Abbas] implements what has been signed, he will have chosen to abandon the way of peace[.]”

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Doha, Abbas reinforced that the unity agreement was reached “not only so that it would be published, but in order to implement it on the ground.”

Netanyahu has spoken. Abbas has chosen.

And what a tremendous blessing for Israel’s leader. The “peace process,” the thorn in Netanyahu’s side, is no more. And there is nothing the US, the Europeans, nor the Israeli Left can do about it.

As for Mr. Obama, he will continue to pressure Israel to make unilateral concessions to the Hamas-Fatah terrorist entity. One need only consider Obama’s current eagerness to “engage” (i.e. conduct “peace” negotiations with) the Taliban to deduce the president’s unwavering policy of appeasing terrorists. Thankfully, the US Congress will have no part of it. Nor will Republicans, particularly during an election year, forgo any opportunity to blast Obama’s mistreatment of the Jewish state. Obama, scavenging for a second term, will need to pander. He should be adequately contained.

More important, however, is Israeli public opinion. Once upon a time, the people of Israel were duped into believing that a man by the name of Yasser Arafat would transform his terror organization into a viable partner for peace. Twenty years and thousands of casualties later, Israelis will not repeat this mistake with Hamas. They will take a stand.

And so, Mr. Netanyahu has been afforded the opportunity not only to strengthen his political base by casting aside the belligerent Palestinians, but also to shore up public support as he shifts Israel’s attention towards its most urgent priority—Iran.

Rest assured, in the coming months—be it April, May, or June, as leaked by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the military chief of Israel’s purported ally—Netanyahu will need all the support up he can amass.

Ironically, Palestinian “reconciliation” will have played a small part in Netanyahu’s drive to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The peace process is dead. All eyes can now be focused exclusively on Tehran.

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