As the deadline to extend talks between Israel and the Palestinians hit on Tuesday, one Palestinian organization literally walked away from the idea of trying to reach peace with Israel. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or PFLP, left a Palestinian leadership meeting over just the possibility of resuming peace talks with Israel, according to the Ma’an News Agency.
The PFLP opposed the final statement coming from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Central Council meeting, which included a clause open to restart negotiations with Israel—if certain demands are met. But even that conditional openness was too open for the PFLP, who wants to completely stop all peace talks with Israel. And it’s not just the smaller PFLP that feels that way—the new partner in the proposed unity government warned that others do too.
Another Ma’an article reported that the political deputy chief of Hamas, which has signed a reconciliation deal with the Palestinian leadership that previously was talking with Israel, said that even recognition of Israel was an issue for a number of Palestinians.
The Palestinian leadership under President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party have come under political fire for the unity deal with Hamas, in large part because Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
But while recognition of Israel is a red line for the US, Hamas Mousa Abu Marzouq didn’t sound very open to changing their group’s anti-Israel position. He said if recognition of Israel were included in the new unity government’s position, a bunch of people would stay out of the government. He did not specify who would take that stance.
An article from The Times of Israel on Sunday cited multiple Palestinian media sources in which Hamas officials maintained their ongoing refusal to recognize Israel. In fact, one Hamas spokesman even threatened to sue The Washington Post over a report in which he appeared open to recognizing Israel.
Another spokesman was quoted as noting that the PLO, a separate entity from the Palestinian day-to-day government, handles issues like talks with Israel. The implication was that a unity government with Hamas wouldn’t need to negotiate with the Israelis.
So while peace talks between Israel were complicated enough already with multiple Palestinian groups rejecting them, the upcoming unity government with Hamas might very well refuse to recognize Israel while a separate body is supposedly open to peace talks. There’s a plan that will work—Israel trying to reach peace with the PLO—which wouldn’t even represent the official Palestinian government. How valid would that deal be?
The countdown to Hamas actually joining the Palestinian leadership is down to roughly four weeks. Between now and then, Abbas and the other Palestinian leadership will need to decide which side they’ll take: unity with Hamas, or pursuing peace. The two simply don’t mix.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, April 29, 2014)