March 17, 2006

Parallel Unilateralisms

To follow up on the Hamas reference in Andrew's last post (gia sou re Andrea me tis pitzames sou!) — even though I never comment on Israeli-Palestinian matters — Steven Erlanger had an actually sober piece on Hamas and the repercussions of its electoral victory:
The “peace process” is effectively dead.

The diplomatic assumptions of recent years - a peace treaty after a negotiated territorial compromise between Israel and Palestine, or “land for peace” - are blown apart. Ariel Sharon tried to redefine the bargain as “a state for security” - in other words, an independent Palestinian state in return for dismantling all armed “terrorist” groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades. That was a commitment undertaken in the “road map” by Yasser Arafat and reconfirmed by Mahmoud Abbas.

But it seems unlikely Hamas will dismantle itself. Nor, its leaders say, will it abandon “the right of resistance to occupation.” Its religious conviction is that all of Palestine, including the current state of Israel, is Islamic “waqf” land - land belonging to the world's Muslims that no Muslim can sell or cede.

Hamas talks of a long-term hudna, or armistice, with Israel - so long as Israel returns to its 1967 boundaries (the armistice lines of the unfinished 1948-49 war), unannexes East Jerusalem and lets all refugees and their descendants return to their pre-1948 homes. The state of Israel itself, Hamas insists, has no right to exist on Islamic waqf land.

So with Hamas, the argument has moved from nationalism and territorial compromise, which can be negotiated, to religious conviction and a temporary Israeli lease on its sovereignty.

A long, hostile quiet may be possible. Israelis and Palestinians may pursue parallel unilateralisms. But serious negotiations on a peace settlement? Very unlikely. Abbas calls for talks. But after Hamas, Israel now considers him unable to deliver the mail, let alone a realistic, permanent two-state solution.
The whole thing, I think, is pretty much on target, especially the parts about Hamas itself.

A friend of mine put it bluntly: “the US is out of the peace process.” And if further musing were in order, one may speculate that the Russians seem to think they may be able to get back in through the Syrian track, and hit several birds with one stone. But that too, if it were indeed true, is quite the shaky proposal on all levels. So I guess Erlanger's declaration that the process is dead and that what we'll most likely be seeing are “parallel unilateralisms,” is largely correct.

Having said that, I now return to my normal policy of not commenting on Israeli-Palestinian issues! Erin go bragh!

Tony Badran.

Posted by Tony Badran at March 17, 2006 8:04 PM
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