Saturday, December 15, 2007

Two States, or Three?

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip portion of the Palestinian Territories, is warning of a new intifada (or uprising) against Israel. The claim came during a massive rally to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the group’s founding. Hamas also used the event to condemned the Israel-Palestine peace talks held last month in Annapolis, Maryland.

Annapolis brought together Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who committed to serious peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. The negotiations are based on the “two-state solution” where the Palestinians agree to recognize Israel and commit to peace in return for an independent state of their own.

But the two state solution is really a three state problem. Abbas in reality is president only of the West Bank portion of Palestine. Since this summer, the Gaza Strip has been firmly in control of Hamas, which does not support Abbas. The Israelis, meanwhile, have steadfastly refused to include Hamas in peace negotiations because Hamas remains dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel.

On the surface it’s hard to quarrel with Israel’s position. But here it’s wise to remember the sage words of the noted Israeli statesman Yitzhak Rabin: “You don’t make peace with your friends, you make peace with your enemies.” In other words, any peace process requires you to sit down with someone you detest, and someone who detests you in return. Its difficult work, and goes against some very basic elements of human nature, but if peace is the goal, it is what’s required.

Once Egypt and Jordan held views similar to those of Hamas and fought wars against Israel. Then the parties talked. Today these nations have been at peace for decades.

The two state solution is designed to provide hope to the Palestinians and security to the Israelis. But by excluding Hamas from any negotiations, we win up with three states, not two: Israel, the West Bank portion of Palestine (presumably at peace with Israel), and an isolated, resentful Palestinian Gaza. Given Hamas’ belligerent tone, they will not abide by any agreements signed by President Abbas in their absence, their attacks will continue - if not increase. There will be no security for Israel – their motivation for engaging in negotiations.

The only solution then, as distasteful to Israel as it may be, is to include Hamas in the peace negotiations. Anything else only condemns the plan to failure.
Sphere: Related Content

No comments: