November 14, 2006
The US elections were a call for change in US policy, but that doesn’t mean we’ll see much
Dear Friend of FLAME:
Last week's US elections open the possibilities for subtle shifts in American policy regarding Iraq and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but don't expect a sea change . . . and don't hold your breath waiting for two peace-loving states to join hands in greater Palestine.
First, as elated as the Democrats are about taking control of Congress, they have their eyes on the bigger prize in 2008---the US presidency. Not only do Democrats not have a coherent policy for cleanly extricating us from Iraq (and who does?), but they are also not likely to make any bold challenges to Bush's policies. After all, come 2008, they still need to be able to blame our failure in Iraq on the Republicans. The last thing Democrats want is for Republicans to be able to say, "You see, they couldn't do any better than we did."
As for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we're also unlikely to see dramatic new initiatives . . . from anybody. The Democratic congress will still overwhelming support Israel---if anything, the addition of two Jewish senators and six Jewish representatives could (but not necessarily) portend more congressional solidarity on US Middle East policy. (But remember, Israel has, at least arguably, never had a greater friend than the Bush administration and the outgoing US congress.)
Nonetheless, while Israel is a friend of the US, it is still a tiny friend in a sea of powerful Arab and Muslim nations---countries like Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, and yes, Iran. These states exert tremendous leverage against the US because of their huge population (220 million and counting), as well as their strategic oil reserves and political importance. All have lobbied the US heavily and persistently for decades to reduce its support of Israel. The temptation remains great for the US to back down from its historical position and begin pressuring Israel (again) to make additional concessions to the Palestinians. Despite Israel's support in the US, we must remain watchful at any signs of weakening in the resolve of our elected officials and the State Department.
But the most potent force working against peace between Israel and the Palestinians is (once again) the Palestinians themselves. The double-talking Arafat and his two-faced Fatah successors, like Mahmoud Abbas, made noises (at least to non-Arab audiences) about peace and a two-state solution. But the leaders of Hamas remain true to their principles and refuse to compromise. As the reports below make clear, they have not yielded an inch in their commitment to destroy Israel and put all of Palestine under Islamic fundamentalist rule. This is surely a position that neither resonates here in the US, nor in Western Europe or any other part of the world wary of a jihadi juggernaut.
Please review the statements of Hamas officials over recent months, compiled for us by MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute (www.memri.org), which monitors and reports on Arab media. Their revelations about what Arab and Muslim leaders say to their people about the US and Israel are no less disturbing and revelatory than Hitler's "Mein Kampf." We ignore their words and sworn commitments at our peril. The jihadists mean business.
Hamas Insists They’ll Keep Fighting Until Palestine Stretches from the River to the Sea
The following are statements made by Hamas leaders in the last two months:
Rejection of Israel and Its Legitimacy
In an interview, Palestinian Political Bureau head Khaled Mash'al told the daily Al-Hayat: "Why am I required to [recognize] the legitimacy of an occupying [entity] that is sitting on my land when there are millions of Palestinians who come from the land on which this entity is sitting? It is true that there is an entity called Israel, but I do not wish to recognize it."(1)
At an October 20, 2006 Hamas convention in Khan Yunis, Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Al-Zahar stated that "Israel is a vile entity that has been planted in our soil, and has no historical, religious or cultural legitimacy. We cannot normalize our relations with this entity. The history of this region has proven [time and again] that occupation is temporary. Thousands of years ago, the Romans occupied this land and [eventually] left. The Persians, Crusaders, and English [also] came and went. The Zionists have come, and they too will leave. [We say] no to recognizing Israel, regardless of the price we may have to pay [for our refusal]."(2)
In a sermon in Khan Yunis, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said: "Israel wants Hamas to hand it the card of recognition in the hope that this would lead to recognition by other Muslim countries. Israel may have been recognized by part of the Palestinian people and by some Arab countries. However, it [now] wants something more significant - the [trump] card of Islamic recognition - and it wants to obtain this recognition through the Palestinian government and Hamas..."(3)
Palestine From the River to the Sea
On the issue of a Palestinian state, Khaled Mash'al said: "The [Hamas] movement has agreed to [the establishment of a Palestinian] state within the 1967 borders and to a hudna [a temporary cessation of hostilities]... As a Palestinian, I am interested in a Palestinian state and I am not interested in the occupying state. Why do people require the Palestinians [to accept] the existence of two states as one of their principles and goals? The Zionist state exists. I [wish to] speak of my Palestinian state that does not exist. I am the one that has been denied [the right to] a state, to sovereignty, to independence, to liberty, and to self-determination. Therefore, my main [goal] is to focus on obtaining my rights. I wish to establish my state."(4)
Mahmoud Al-Zahar said: "We [aim to liberate] all our lands... If we have the option, we will establish a state on every inch of land within the 1967 [borders], but this does not by any means imply that we will relinquish our right to all the Palestinian lands. We want all of Palestine from [Ras] Naqura to Rafah, and from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river."(5)
An announcement issued by Hamas on the occasion of the anniversary of the Kafr Qasem massacre stated: "We will not relinquish a single grain of the soil of Kafr Qasem, or a single inch of stolen Palestinian land. Sooner or later, our people shall return to its land, to its cities and to its villages from which it was expelled..."(6)
On the 2002 Arab (Saudi) Peace Initiative
Hamas Political Bureau Head Musa Abu Marzouq said: "Hamas has serious reservations about the [Arab] initiative since it involves acceptance of two states, Palestine and Israel. Hamas rejects this because it means recognition of Israel."(7)
Khaled Mash'al also referred to the same topic: "The interested parties [involved] in the Arab-Israeli conflict and in a [potential] settlement never took the Arab initiative seriously. The problem, therefore, does not lie with the initiative or with the Arab countries, but rather with the U.S. and Israel, which reject this initiative and wish to impose the Quartet's terms on us. In the past, we were told that the [Arab] initiative is only a step [towards a goal]. Then, some of the Arab and Palestinian parties told us, officially, that accepting the Arab initiative is an important step in convincing the international community that [the Palestinians] accept the Quartet's terms. So they are not interested in the initiative itself but in its end result. That is, [they are interested in the initiative] as a step on the way to accepting the Quartet's terms.(8)
On the Legitimacy of Resistance and Jihad
In an October 6 speech Ismail Haniya said, "We [derive our] legitimacy from the legitimacy of the jihad. We are a government born from the womb of the resistance, from the womb of the martyrs... We are a government that comes out of resistance and jihad, and out of the desire for resistance and jihad against the Zionist occupation..."(9)
Khaled Mash'al said: "We do not regard our actions as terrorism or violence
but as resistance that is legitimate, even according to international law,
so I refuse [to use] any term that would imply self-criticism. It is the
aggressor [i.e. Israel] that is perpetrating violence and terrorism. It is
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