Hawkish Israeli government opposes Palestinian reconciliationBy Ashahed M. Muhammad -Asst. Editor- | Last updated: May 8, 2011 - 6:29:17 PM
Details are not yet finalized, however the agreement reportedly calls for the establishment of an interim unity government and legislative elections within one year. Currently, the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority governs the West Bank while Hamas controls the Gaza Strip. The initial agreement was announced during a joint press conference in Cairo on April 27.
Immediately, Israel's hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke out against the move towards Palestinian reconciliation. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman joined the chorus, saying, “Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] and the PA must understand that it is not possible to be a partner with terrorists without being a partner to terror,” according to The Jerusalem Post.
Mr. Netanyahu—who is scheduled to deliver a speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress in May—encouraged the international community not to recognize the deal, and delivered an ultimatum to Mahmoud Abbas telling him to choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas.
In an Apr. 28 press briefing hosted by the Institute for Middle East Understanding, Activist Fadi Quran, speaking from Ramallah said it is Mr. Netanyahu and the Israeli government acting as the obstacles to peace.
“What peace is he talking about?” Mr. Quran asked. “I think he'd like to make it seem like the Palestinian people are not pursuing peace when in reality, Israel as it seems has decided a long time ago that it doesn't want a just peace with the Palestinians, it wants to maintain control over Palestinians. The peace that Netanyahu is offering is the peace of a slave with his master, and we are refusing it,” he added.
Mr. Raji Sourani, Director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) agreed saying continued disunity was “suicidal for the Palestinian cause and people.”
“The Palestinian leadership has no right or reason to continue the split. The most recent Israeli leadership has embarked on war crimes; through humiliation and social and economic suffocation—leaving Palestinians in their worst situation since the Nakba. This Israeli government has no agenda for peace. There is nothing left for the Palestinians to be divided about: it is politically meaningless to continue the Palestinian split.”
Palestinian lawyer and analyst Diana Buttu expressed cautions optimism and the desire for the elimination of external interference.
“It is important to remember that one of the biggest obstacles to Palestinian unity was international interference, particularly interference by the United States and the EU. This is an important step in Palestinian history and I hope that this agreement will lead to a broader Palestinian strategy on how to effectively challenge Israel's military rule, its apartheid system and its denial of Palestinian freedom,” said Ms. Buttu.
Author and analyst Ali Abunimah said the Palestinian people must define the goals of this youth-led grassroots movement towards peace and reconciliation. He also called for the continued activism of the Palestinian national movement worldwide.
“We have to end the game of sitting and waiting for a peace process or results from Washington D.C. or from Oslo or anywhere else. It's not going to materialize,” said Mr. Abunimah. “Only an independent broad based Palestinian movement whose agenda is defined by Palestinians can be independent of the blackmail of the European Union and the United States.”
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