Friday, December 23, 2011

Tobin - Is Hamas Joining the PLO or is Fatah Joining Hamas?

Jonathan Tobin
22 December '11

In line with previous reports of a change in strategy on the part of Hamas, the news that the Islamist terror group has agreed to join the Palestine Liberation Organization may be viewed as further evidence of their moderation. But anyone who imagines that this move will bring the Middle East closer to peace is the victim of a deception. Rather than the PLO moderating Hamas, the integration of Gaza’s rulers into the ruling structures that govern the West Bank merely guarantees it will be even more difficult, if not impossible, for Israel to have a Palestinian negotiating partner.

The talks between Hamas and Fatah – the ruling faction of both the Palestinian Authority and the PLO — are fraught with tension, but the ongoing negotiations between the two factions in Cairo are testimony to the commitment of both to unite their efforts. Such a common front will not only close the door to talks to Israel (which the PA has avoided for three years) but will also raise the question of whether it will be possible to avoid a new round of violence.

Some readers may be wondering why the two groups are fussing about membership in a group many thought ceased to exist once the Oslo Accords brought Yasir Arafat to power via the Palestinian Authority. The PA is the governing structure of the West Bank as it had been in Gaza until Hamas seized power there in 2007. But the PLO remains the group that is widely recognized around the world and at the United Nations as the representative of the Palestinians. Thus, the integration of Hamas into the PLO is historically significant.

The PLO was always a coalition of various Palestinian terror groups of all stripes of which Fatah was once headed by Arafat and now PA President Mahmoud Abbas was the largest and most important. Including Hamas in the group means that for the first time, Fatah will have a coalition partner that is a major rival.

The PLO membership agreement, along with the other aspects of the unity deal, makes it clear what we are seeing is an attempt at a genuine power sharing treaty that will ultimately integrate Hamas into the security forces and the government of the West Bank as well as Gaza. Though optimists will hope this means they will become, as Fatah has been, partners with Israel in joint security arrangements, what this really means is the assumption about the emergence of a moderate Palestinian state on the West Bank living peacefully alongside Israel was just wishful thinking.

In pursuing this course, Fatah is bowing to what it sees as the inevitable tide of Palestinian opinion opposed to recognition of Israel and peace. Though Hamas may say it is giving up armed struggle, what it is really telling us is that it is concentrating on its short-term goal of transforming Palestinian political culture into an extension of the Hamas worldview rather than its long-term goal of eradicating Israel.

The unity deal underscores two aspects of Palestinian politics that are rarely discussed in the West.

The first is that the distance between Fatah and Hamas on questions of ideology toward Israel and even their desired organizing principles of Palestinian society was always exaggerated. The two groups may be different in some respects, but they are more compatible than most foreign observers understand. Fatah may have put itself forward to Western journalists as basically secular, but the PA has never distanced itself from fundamentalist Islam in its state-funded mosques and broadcast and print media. Nor has it sought to counter the influence of Islamism in Palestinian culture. Both also share a commitment to promoting anti-Semitic hate.

The second point is that the reason why Hamas has gained the upper hand over Fatah and forced them to negotiate rather than to fight them is that violence conveys legitimacy to their efforts that cannot be overcome by Fatah’s flirtation with good government principles via the programs of soon-to-be-ousted PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. In the upside-down ethos of Palestinian politics, Hamas’ dedication to violence has trumped Fayyad’s attempt to improve the standard of living on the West Bank.

While there is no way of knowing exactly how the Fatah-Hamas romance will play out, the one thing that is certain is that it forecloses any possibility of peace with Israel. Those seeking to endorse this pact or to interpret it as a precursor of negotiations with Israel simply have little appreciation for Hamas’ devotion to its Islamist ideology or for the support it has won.

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1 comment:

  1. Re: Is Hamas Joining the PLO or is Fatah Joining Hamas?

    In the end it really does not matter. Anyone who ever had eyes to see and ears to hear has always known this was always a question of "six of one and/or half a dozen of the other".

    The value to Israel is that this most recent development may perhaps make it slightly harder for pathetic human failures such as Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton to promote the idea that there is anyone at all left for the State of Israel to sit with at Leon Panetta's "damn" table.

    "How very sad it is for those who have eyes, yet cannot and will not see".

    We have survived for two thousand years as a People. And we will survive the likes of Obama, Clinton and all the Panetta's of this world. Pitiful, hypocritical, manipulating, opportunists-all.

    When my attorney Father, Paul D. Pakter, Esq., may he Rest in Peace, (a Russian immigrant who arrived, age four on the shores of America), lay on his death bed at the age of 93, the last words that issued from his lips were these:

    "We are the strong".

    He was both referring to his blood Family which could be traced back countless generations, but also to all the Jews of the world as a whole.

    Born in Czarist Russia in 1904, my Father and his parents had seen first hand and survived the frequent pogroms in his native village of Slonim in Belarus until they finally knew it was time to "get out".

    The days of Jews running from danger to save their skin are now long gone.

    Hamas, et al, with every passing day and hour make it ever more clear that Israel must never surrender a single inch of the sacred land of Israel.

    When the offer of a two State plan was foolishly rejected and refused by the Arabs in 1947, the history of the Jewish people moved on without them, though not without the further shedding of Jewish blood in the ensuing decades during war after war.

    The Arabs perhaps are not even aware that they "missed the boat" in 1947.

    Said differently: "The train has left the station" - in fact it left the station quite a long time ago.

    Only Obama, Clinton, Panetta, et al,and all the Arabs and anti-semites of the world do not understand the reality of what constitutes the flow of human history.

    The State of Israel is here to stay and will remain till the end of time.

    Nations and governments may arise and fall in the Middle East through a thousand "Springs" as well as "Winters".

    But Israel will remain. For Israel is Eternal.

    No Arab nation or any nation or ruler on Earth can ever hope to alter that fact regardless of how much they might wish it.

    Did not a wise man once correctly pen those immortal lines which appear in Edward Fitzgerald's translation of the poem:

    "The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam", (1859):

    "The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
    Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
    Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it".