Ambassador Dennis Ross, the architect of Camp David Two and the chief diplomat of the United States in the Peace Process, pronounced himself the other day to be of the opinion that if the new Hamas government of the PA does not not change itself to accept Israel’s existence, then it will have to be destroyed.
There is a certain logic in this. Ross made an effort to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians and it came to less than naught. He is understandably distraught at the failure of his hopes. As a follow up to that failure he became an executive of an organization that seeks to advance the interests of Jewish people in what I think of as the Holy Land. He said that the reason he did so was that he is Jewish.
Now, the PA will form a government drawn in its membership from its own leadership, none of whom have accepted Israel’s existence. Nor are they likely to do so in the future. The Hamasniks justify their actions to themselves and everyone else on the basis of their identity as Muslims.
To put the issue simply, it is war "to the knife" between these two peoples.
"After other Palestinian factions refused to join a coalition, the victorious Islamist group nominated a Cabinet whose senior members have all been jailed, deported and escaped Israeli assassination. Chief among Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniya’s 24 ministers are Dr Mahmoud al-Zahar, a hardliner, as Foreign Minister, and Said Siyam as Interior Minister. Most others are Hamas, with some pro-Islamist independents and technocrats, one woman and one Christian.
President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to approve them but may try to delay the decision until after the Israeli general election on March 28. However, Shaul Mofaz, Israel’s Defence Minister, said that if President Abbas accepted the line-up he would “officially turn the Palestinian Authority into a terror entity”. Hamas faces a cash crisis, as EU foreign ministers met in Brussels yesterday to consider how to continue providing aid to Palestinians without endorsing what is regarded as a terrorist organisation by the EU and US. " London Times
I will repeat my earlier estimate. After the Israeli election, a campaign to eliminate the Hamas/PA leadership will accelerate and if that does not succeed in eliminating the Hamas government, then Israel will begin to re-occupy the territories.
We’re “bringing democracy to the Mideast”. Is destroying a legitimately elected government appropriate? Or productive?
The players have spent a lot of time and energy setting the stage for this dance. We owe it to them to let them play out, for better or for worse.
Refusing to allow a duly elected government to rule is crass hypocrisy. If we didn’t want a fair election, why would we demand one? At least the colonialist Brits were honest and installed them what suited their purposes. Lasted longer than our system.
Trying to destroy Hamas leaders through assasination has brought them in as the representatives of the Palestinian people in an election. It seems that Hamas could be the only political entity in Palestine that can legitimately bring a peace deal if the Israelis want one. They have managed to mostly hold their end of the truce deal. Attacking and reoccupying Palestine would only further inflame the Middle East. In the short term the Israeli military can dominate the financially poor and militarily weak Palestinians but they will not be able to dampen the fires of self-determination that have been stoked by the West. Taking over by force a elected Hamas government will only make them matryrs to their people and any hopes of reconciliation will take decades until both sides have leaders who are also statesmen. Ultimately what does Israel want – a Palestinian state with their own leaders; a Palestinian state with Israel approved government or no Palestinian state. Israel gets what it wants as they have the economic and military strength. But will they get lasting peace? What a twisted web we weave!
PL, do you see any scenario in which Olmert helps the situation?
I’m unsure about Olmert. He has now ‘warrior image’ like Sharon. Does he have the standing to be push through a deal with the Palestinians against the right wing?
If he doesn’t dare, Hamas and their ‘extremism’ will give him a good excuse to try to profile himself as a tough guy. He could then sell it as moral clarity. I have my doubts that the Israeli right is any less extreme or fanatic than Hamas, or any more willing, or unwilling, to compromise.
I too doubt that destroying an elected gvt because it is extreme will add much to the already damaged credibility of the U.S. claim to spread democracy in the Middle East.
Excellent backgrounder on the Israel/Palestine conflict A concerted effort was made to present the information as impartially as possible. I believe the writer succeeded.
It’s up-to-date to the Hamas Victory, but doesn’t include the most recent developments.
It includes a statement by Hamas as to what their intentions are. It doesn’t look like they will accept boundaries that are imposed by Israel or the UN. My take is they absolutely will not agree to Israel in any of the occupied territories.
The fence that is being built by Israel, just may be a very good idea, but only if it can keep the Palestinians out and the Israelis in.
The two have proved to be mortal enemies and the fence just may be a solution. They can’t live with each other, so why not segregate them into two distinct nations where they don’t interact with each other. Details about passage would have to be worked out in areas where the wall doesn’t contain Israel.
That approach hasn’t been tried.
The city of Jerusalem could be portioned too so they don’t have to mix with other. Strict boundaries for Palestinians and Israelis in the City would be difficult but not impossible.
How long would Palestine thrive in their misery behind that fence, and look up at the settlements on the hilltops and live with it without perspective? After all, the Palestinians will soon make up the majority within Israels borders. I doubt that ‘bantustanising’ Palestine is a long term solution.
And then Israel, sadly, is not exaclty the model democracy it sells itself as – they have two classes of citizens, jews, and non-jews, who have less rights. In that sense, it’s an exclusive club.
It’s worth keeping in mind the line by Ben Gurion: “If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. . . . We come from Israel, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti‐Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?”
PS: Well, that part about less rights was a shot from the hip, and unfortunaley incorrect. Embarassing.
PPS: That was what was creeping around in the depths of my meory – In the past Israeli Arabs had iirc alleged that they faced discrimination in a number of respects, arising from legislation and government policy. Since the mid 1990s the government has adopted affirmative action to counter that.
Hamas has no idea of doing more than make truce with Israel. they will fins way over the wall, first with indirect fire and later, who knows.
I don’t know if you have spent much time in Jerusalem but the idea of partitioning the Old City strikes me as impractical and just not wrokable. This is a medieval city with narrow winding streets that tie the place together in one whole. pl
I haven’t actually been to Jerusalem. I just threw the idea of partition out for discussion. Have no idea if it’s workable.
If the streets are close together, then divisions of the City could be based on areas?
Just looking for something that has any possibility of having appeal to Palestinians and Israelis.
That city is important to both of them. Fresh ideas that are outside the box are needed to bring any kind of stability to the conflict.
As for your point that Hamas wouldn’t keep the peace…how do you know they wouldn’t if the two cultures didn’t intermingle?
Russia and the West were hardly pals when WWII was over, but Berlin was shared for many years by Britain, France, the US and Russia. Yes, a wall was built that was eventually torn down, but while the relationship between Russia and the West was the most fractured, the wall served a purpose. After the intensity of the cold war had healed somewhat, the wall was torn down and now Germany is reunited.
That was where I got the idea that Jerusalem might be divisible between Israelis and Palestinians.
The hate between these two groups of peoples is now so strong that walls are a possibility that should be considered.
Important to the two of them? I don’t now who you are, but what about us Christians? We don’t have rights? For those of us who profess Chritianity, our Savior died in Jerusalem and rose from the dead there, and ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives just by the old seven arches hotel. What gives these people more rights than we have?
Hamas lives to destroy Israel. a truce is acceptable to them and it would be to me as well if I were Israeli becasuse it is all that one will get. pl
Well said Colonial..
Doesn’t matter whether you know me, I found your blog and you seem to encourage people to post to it? If not, just speak up and I’ll consider your blog by invitation only. It’s one of the more interesting and factual blogs on the Internet. The chapters of your book that you have posted has been another draw, because I have since childhood had an interest in the civil war. I like to visit civil war sites and read historical accounts of the battles that were fought. Modern American history has been another interest of mine. Colonel, you’re a very public person so much is known about you. If you’d like more details about me, send an e-mail and I’ll be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
After the summer of 1919, Britain and France divided the Middle East between them. Palestine was formed in 1922
When Israel is stable enough for tourism, Christians or members of any other religion can travel with safety to Jerusalem and see the places where Jesus spent periods of his life and where he died. When it is not, no one other than Israelis and Palestinians dare to go there unless there is some compelling reason for them to risk their lives. I don’t cede my rights nor anyone else’s to visit; the volatility of the people who live there take rights away.
The only requirement for posting on this board is civility. you seem to have that
What I meant about not knowing you was intended to say that the context of one’s life is often illuminating as to the meaning of words.
The Israelis hold Jerusalem by force of arms. It was not given to them by any recognizable process of law. PL
You talk of Christians in the Holy Land and Jerusalem as “tourists.” We are not. The Palestinian Christians there are of course indigenous. They need to travel freely in their own city to worship, go to school and work, and reach doctors, dentists and pharmacies. It’s not a matter of waiting for things to “settle down” for them. Their children won’t wait. Non-Palestinian Christians are also not tourists, but pilgrims. I put a fine point on this because you use the same language my Israeli and American Jewish friends use.
canuck/PL, partition of the New City is not untenable although I fear the worst for Palestinian travel. The Old City is another story. The Israelis won’t be told which gates they can enter by. Damascus And Jaffa Gates while the main portals for the Muslim and Christian Quarters are also main entries for the Jews en route to the Wall. The Old City is a working city, not just a tourist and pilgrimage site. I would say partition,although not impossible, would be unacceptable to all parties.
canuck, not trying to start a fight. It just seems like your solution is akin to sending two brothers to separate bedrooms to end a fight. There’s only bedroom in Palestine.
PL, Teddy Kollek annexed East Jerusalem and the Old City in 69? As mayor, correct?
Yes, but that was a unilateral Israeli action with no standing in international law. The existing legislation on this is the UN partition of 1948 (?) which created a “Corpus Seperatus” made up of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. pl
I was referring to the Old City. Clearly the New City and the city north of the OC are separable. pl
You’ll be pleased to know I’ve done some more reading about Jerusalem including The Old City
The very fact that it still stands, is encouraging. So despite whatever brand of hatred there is, and regardless of ‘specific’ religions, antiquity has been preserved for succeeding generations. After seeing those pictures, I now would like to go there. But, I have to admit, I’m reluctant to go to a country where suicide bombers and retaliation against them occurs almost on a daily basis.
If there were some signs that peace could be achieved, I wouldn’t hesitate. The election of Hamas and their selection of hardliners for their cabinet, is sending out omnious signals that peace will not easily be established in this region of the world.
Beyond the Walls of the Old City is stunningly beautiful.
What these two cultures share in common is their deep beliefs that we all have descended from a common place.
How to change intolerant minds so there is peace?
Interestingly, President Truman had had grave doubts How right he was. It’s obvious by his language and his resistance to the entire process that he didn’t think having Israel as a State was a really good idea. But finally he did support it with I belief great reluctance. Wouldn’t it be great if the clock could be turned back and the mistakes corrected before they were made. Hindsight is always 20/20 and there never was an easy solution to the conflict in the Middle East.
Somehow peace has to be established?
Intolerance is at the heart of ME culture. I am what David Brooks (NYT today)calls a proponent of “vulgarized Huntingtonism.” In other words I think the neocons were utterly wrong in believing in the facility with which ME culture could be changed and in the perfectability of mankind and the malleability of human institurions.
This is not to say that human populations and societies do not change naturally over time and that is not possible to change them forcefully, but it takes a lot longer and a lot more effort than the neocons think (Brooks included).
Stay at the “American Colony Hotel.” pl