February 08, 2012

Netanyahu on Palestinian unity

There's a piece in yesterday's print edition of The Guardian (Monday's online edition) by Harriet Sherwood about a unity government being formed by Fatah and Hamas.

The rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have agreed to form a new unity government in the West Bank and Gaza, which will be headed by Mahmoud Abbas, it was announced on Monday.
Reconciliation talks between the two factions have struggled to make progress since an agreement in principle was signed last spring.
I'm sure there have been many articles on this subject over the years but a couple of points stood out here. First, Sherwood, while highlighting a potential rift within Hamas, equates violence with rejecting Israel's "right" to exist and she contrasts both violence and rejectionism with "popular resistance:

There was no immediate response from Ismail Haniyeh, the de facto Hamas prime minister of Gaza. Over recent months, a rift has openedbetween the Gaza-based leadership of the Islamist organisation and its external leadership on the group's future strategy.
Israel and the United States have voiced concern about a closer relationship between Fatah and Hamas, and are opposed to any unity government that includes Hamas. Despite Meshaal's efforts to turn Hamas towards a strategy of popular resistance, it has not formally renounced violence and accepted Israel's right to exist.
The print edition contains a final paragraph missing from the online version. It's this:
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said if the new government went ahead, "Abbas will have chosen to abandon the way of peace and to join with Hamas".
Now why does any unity agreement among Palestinians amount to Abbas abandoning peace and not Hamas embracing peace? Regarding the latter, I'm not saying they should embrace peace as unconditionally as Abbas has done. I'm merely pointing out the scope for interpretation that Netanyahu has completely ignored.


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