Sunday, February 26, 2006

Glimmer of Hope for Palestine?

Whenever you enter a dark room, your vision is lost and you feel disoriented. If you wait a few minutes, and adjust to the new optics, you begin to see some hint of light that allows for a level of comfort. It's still dark, but at least you can see shapes and form. This example seems analogous to the latest developments in Palestine:
Hamas leaders have repeatedly indicated they will not back down over Israel, despite facing tremendous pressure from the United States, Europe and parts of the Arab world.

However, Haniyeh said in an interview published on Saturday that Hamas is "ready to recognize" Israel under certain conditions.

"If Israel declares that it will give the Palestinian people a state and give them back all their rights, then we are ready to recognize them," Haniyeh told the Washington Post in remarks posted on the newspaper's website...

The United States will continue to send humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people even after a Hamas government is formed, a U.S. envoy says.

State Department official David Welch and other U.S. diplomats met with Palestinian leaders in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Saturday.

The United States and the European Union donate about $900 million US each year to the Palestinians. But they've been threatening to pull the funds if the government is led by Hamas, which they list as a terrorist organization.

The fact that Hamas has articulated conditions by which they would recognize Israel is a positive sign and represents a slight softening of previous statements. So too, the American decision to continue aid and in effect pursue diplomacy with economic leverage. Small steps by any measure, at least these developments turn down the volume and offer some possibility.

Abbas is threatening to resign if peace talks with Israel breakdown, which may apply more pressure on Hamas to pursue talks. The weight of the world community, coupled with internal pressures, may force Hamas to go where it is not naturally inclined. Interesting to note that there was a time where the PLO was largely a pariah, bent on the destruction of Israel. I realize Hamas is a unique case, especially as it refers to their religious extremism, but there is a historical precedent for evolution under the right conditions.

The important thing for all sides, is resist the kneejerk reaction and focus on small developments that point to progress. I don't mean to sound naively optimistic, but maybe the landscape isn't as pitch dark, as it first appeared.


catnip said...

I'm not as confident as you are. First of all, I seriously doubt that Israel will accept these terms. They may say they're willing to talk, but they've been talking for 30 years.

Secondly, the US just took back $50 million from the Palestinian government. Now they're going to reroute their aid money through NGOs and the UN, so the article may fool some people out there into thinking they're softening, but the US will do what it always has with governments it abhors: blackmail them into US style democracy and values - just as Israel is now doing by planning to hold back Palestinian tax money which rightfully belongs to the Palestinian people.

There may be a "glimmer", but it's not any shinier than it was two weeks ago.

Steve V said...


I am not confident at all- it's a mess! However, clearly it is a good development if Hamas actually entertains a world with Israel, no matter the conditions. The Americans have clearly stepped back from their threats on aid, again clearly positive (as Jimmy Carter argued earlier).