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Right Turn
Posted at 03:25 PM ET, 04/27/2011

Hamas-Fatah pact: Is the peace process over?

Today, Fatah and the terrorist organization Hamas announced they’ve made a pact. The Jerusalem Post reported:

A spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that Hamas has agreed to hold elections within a year, a part of the reconciliation deal it signed in Cairo.

“The two sides signed initial letters on an agreement. All points of differences have been overcome,” Taher Al-Nono, the Hamas government spokesman in Gaza, said.

A Hamas spokesperson said that “all points of differences” between the rival groups have been overcome. He added that officials in Cairo will soon invite top Hamas and Fatah officials for a signing ceremony in the Egyptian capital.

The breakthrough came as a result of talks reported on Tuesday, when a Hamas delegation traveled to Cairo for discussions on a potential Fatah-Hamas reconciliation.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s response was swift: “The PA must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both.”:

The prime minister noted that the Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel and that he cannot tolerate a situation like that which exists in Gaza — with missiles, rockets and mortars fired into Israeli territory — to enter the West Bank. “Hamas aspires to destroy Israel and fires rockets at our cities . . . at our children,” he said.

I asked former Israeli ambassador to the U.N., Dore Gold, for his take. He e-mailed:

Hamas is an international terrorist organization, period. That is not just an Israeli determination but the opinion of the EU and the US government. There are no diplomatic acrobatics that are possible which could make an organization that has been committed to suicide bombing attacks and rocketing Israeli civilians into a partner for peace.

The big question that will need to be monitored is how this new pact affects the security situation. Will the PA now release from prison Hamas terrorists who were engaged in attacks on Israel? The PA security apparatus which is generally praised by Western observers will have no value, if those engaging in terroristic activities are not indicted, tried and put into prison, because of the new political ties with Hamas.

An American foreign policy guru puts it this way: “ I don’t see how we can fund the PA if it is in de facto alliance with an organization on the US Terrorist list.”

Elliott Abrams, the former deputy national security director responsible for the Middle East, writes along similar lines today:

This deal, if it is real, will be interpreted in Israel as a choice by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to make peace with Hamas rather than with Israel. It is hard to see how Israel could negotiate with a Palestinian government half or more of which represents a terrorist group dedicated to attacking the Jewish State. . . . As this deal does not appear to require Hamas to change one word of its violently anti-Semitic Charter, the new Palestinian government would hardly be a peace partner.

Other questions arise. Will Salam Fayyad, the current prime minister, maintain his post? If not, how will Congress and other donors feel about continuing the aid flow to the PA? Even if Fayyad remains, will Congress vote aid funds for this new half-Hamas government? What will lawyers at the Treasury and State Departments say about the participation of a terrorist group in the PA government? Will it even be legal to give funds to the PA?

As absurd as it is to foist a “peace deal” on Israel when the PA refuses to negotiate directly and as mad as it is for Israel to take these steps when the region is in flames and the identity of its neighbors is yet to be determined, certainly even this administration wouldn’t demand that Netanyahu, as Abrams put it, “lean far forward in seeking a deal with the Palestinian leadership just when it is leaning away from Israel and toward Hamas?” Well, one would think. But with this administration, facts on the ground have a funny way of becoming irrelevant.

By  |  03:25 PM ET, 04/27/2011

 
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