US Envoy Jason Greenblatt flanked by Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzahi Hanegbi (left) and PA Water Authority head Mazen Ghuneim..
(photo credit: MATTY STERN, US EMBASSY TEL AVIV)
Trump administration negotiator Jason Greenblatt’s announcement last week that the US stands by the decades-old conditions for a peace settlement with the Palestinian Authority means that Israel and the Washington are finally on the same page after years of divergent views. Unfortunately, the PA’s would-be coalition partner, Hamas, remains adamant in its total rejection of peace with the Jewish state.
Greenblatt stood by Israel on the Palestinian unity negotiations taking place in Cairo, saying, “Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognize the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties – including disarming terrorists – and committing to peaceful negotiations. If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements.”
A new wind is blowing from Washington toward the Middle East, which the irredentist jihadists of Gaza choose to ignore as they pursue the impossible contradiction of a peace agreement between Israel and a terrorist movement that, contrary to objective fact, considers itself an existential threat to Israel.
Hamas “security” chief Yahya Sinwar responded to Greenblatt’s evocation of the conditions set by the Middle East Quartet – the US, Russia, EU and UN – by declaring that the issue is only when to “erase” the Jewish state. After four bloody conflicts it provoked with Israel and lost at the cost of Gaza’s increasing misery, Hamas still doesn’t get it.
Sinwar’s answer: “The time in which Hamas discusses the issue of recognizing Israel is over,” he told youth in Gaza on Thursday, according to the Shehab news agency, adding, “The discussion now is about ‘when to erase Israel.’”
The jihadist Hamas is considered by the US and others to be a terrorist group. Its military arm, the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, has some 25,000 fighters, known for firing some 4,000 rockets at Israeli civilians and digging a network of tunnels with which to mount attacks on nearby kibbutzim.
“Nobody in the world can take away our weapons,” Sinwar told an audience of youths soon-to-be Izzadin Kassam fighters that was also reported on Hamas spokesman Hazim Qassim’s Facebook page. “Not one minute in the day or night passes without our forces accumulating them. We are freedom fighters and revolutionaries for the sake of our people’s freedom.”
Hamas has apparently failed its own recent reality test, which caused it finally to admit its utter failure in governing Gaza since it defeated Fatah for the privilege in a bloody 2007 coup. Weary of the task of rationing electricity and drinking water to its subjects, Hamas is now willing to let the PA do the dirty work of governance, while the most it apparently is willing to “sacrifice for the sake of its people’s freedom” is a transparently false pledge to refrain from terrorism – in the West Bank – while maintaining a Hezbollah- like presence alongside Fatah there and in Gaza.
This Lebanonization of the West Bank is a total non-starter, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Jordan Valley settlers on Thursday. The prime minister declared that, while Israel wants to resolve the conflict, it would not conduct negotiations with the irredentist Hamas.
“We want peace. We want a genuine peace and because of this we will not conduct negotiations with a terrorist organization in diplomatic disguise,” Netanyahu said.
What Netanyahu left unsaid was the undeniable truth that, after all, one cannot negotiate with an irrational subject, and Hamas’s persistent delusion that it is capable of destroying Israel is clearly proof of that.
PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani noted that the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah was aware of the similarities of statements from Greenblatt and the Israeli security cabinet on the latest attempt at Palestinian reconciliation. He pointed out that, if a unity government is indeed formed with Hamas, it would have to follow the policies of the PLO, which recognizes Israel and supports ending the conflict through peaceful means – which apparently do not include inciting terrorism.
The security cabinet, in its declaration a day before Greenblatt’s, included the humanitarian condition that Hamas must return the bodies of Israeli soldiers as well as the two Israeli citizens it holds. Even if Hamas decides to demonstrate that it can act rationally and meet this request as a gesture of good faith, the continued belligerence toward Israel – as expressed this week by Sinwar – is the truest sign that the terrorist organization cannot be a partner for peace.