The Abbas-Hamas Delirium

There’s something quite remarkable in the depths of denial to which the Bush Administration, and the likes of Dennis Ross, are reaching in their take on Palestinian politics. On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that Middle East “hands” are divided over whether to talk to Hamas, with longtime realists stating the obvious about the need to talk to Hamas, and even the hapless Condi Rice being forced to support Israel-Hamas truce negotiations with plausible deniability. But then comes Dennis Ross, whom as we have noted elsewhere, may be more part of the problem than part of the solution in the Middle East, with this warning against talking to Hamas: “It would give the sense that the world has to adjust to them, and immediately demoralize the Palestinians you want to work with.” Uh, Dennis… Let’s just say that had “the world” (presumably this being “the world” as in “the World Series”) adjusted to Hamas when it won the Palestinian election, we might be in a better place than we are now. As for demoralizing “the Palestinians you want to work with,” is it not time to call an end to the fantasy that Mahmoud Abbas represents the Palestinian people? Why would you want to work exclusively with a leader who can’t possibly deliver anything at the peace table? It’s frankly absurd.

It’s always worth paying attention to the polling of the Palestine Center for Social Research in Ramallah — had U.S. officials done so, they’d have noticed that Hamas had the momentum before the election in which they trounced Fatah. The latest PSR survey of Palestinian public opinion finds that Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh would run neck and neck with Abbas in a Palestinian presidential election, at 47% each. And that, once again, shows that Hamas has the momentum. More importantly, though, it shows that if the Fatah candidate were the imprisoned Marwan Barghouti, he would receive 58% of the vote to Haniyeh’s 38%. (Nor is this really news — polls showed that Barghouti would have trounced Abbas if he’d stood as an independent last time around, from inside his Israeli prison cell, as he briefly threatened to do.)

The “good news,” then, for those who want to see Hamas eclipsed by democratic means, is that Barghouti has made clear that he’ll consider a presidential run in 2009. The bad news, of course, is that Barghouti, easily the most popular leader in Fatah because of his reputation as uncorrupt and willing to stand up to the Israelis, is no more “the Palestinians that (Ross) wants to work with” than is Haniyeh. Barghouti, the closest thing the Palestinians have to a Nelson Mandela, is currently in an Israeli prison on terrorism charges. He believes in a two-state solution, but also that the Palestinians have the right to bear arms against the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. And he sees Hamas not as an enemy to be eliminated, but as an ally with which Fatah should share power.

One thing that you can be sure of is that if Dennis Ross has his way and the U.S. continues to seek to work only with those Palestinians it likes (i.e. Abbas and his aides), there’s unlikely to be a Palestinian election next year — or for the foreseeable future. Nor, by the way, is there likely to be any peace.

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19 Responses to The Abbas-Hamas Delirium

  1. morris says:

    Releasing Barghouti and keeping the other ten thousand prisoners (including women & children) would be perceived as another sleight of hand.
    Releasing all the prisoners and withdrawing jurisdiction from the territories, basically following resolution 242 would likely bring a hundred years peace.
    It’s time for the Israeli leadership to start a revolution, to make it clear there is an imminent, possibly neverending war very close, unless attitudes are changed.
    The grand plan of encircling and then quashing Iran has failed. And a consequence is a scrutiny of Israelis.
    JFK wanted to transform the military into a peace corp. Israelis could be transformed from having secret agendas to a spiritual awakening. What have they to fear? Changing careers is never easy. But if a person succeeds in one career they can succeed in another. In the new Israel there could be a pride in something other than supporting oppressive regimes.

  2. FredJ says:

    “There’s something quite remarkable in the depths of denial…”

    Tony hasn’t shown us any denial, even unremarkable. Just a difference of opinion.

    Marwan Barghouti was convicted of the killings of 5 people. If he wanted to be accepted by the Israelis, he should have thought of that before.

    Morris thinks that we’d have 100 years of peace if Israel pulled back to the 1967 borders. If that were true, one Israeli government or another would have done it. Israel can only gain from peace.

    It’s pretty obvious that a Palestinian State in the West Bank would be taken over by Hamas or possibly even Syria. They would arm themselves and wage war as soon it was convenient.

    With Hamas fully armed, the coming war would make today’s conflict look like a tea party.

    And Marwan Barghouti, who wants to work with Hamas anyway, isn’t going to prevent it.

    Neither will formal talks with Hamas.

  3. FredJ says:

    “The Abbas-Hamas Delirium”

    That’s Tony’s title. I don’t see any delirium, either.

  4. Jim Byers says:

    If Israel can have criminal terrorist prime ministers how can Barghouti be reasonably rejected in a peace proposal.
    Marwan Barghouti was convicted of conspiracy not any direct action.

  5. Tony says:

    You can safely ignore Fred, Jim. I suspect he’s kind of a minder assigned to this site by the Israeli foreign ministry, and his role — and that of his unacknowledged tag team mate Y Ben David, who will no doubt pop his head up in a minute — is to preoccupy and provoke and distract us… I don’t bother to respond, because my time can be more productively used…

  6. Murphy says:

    I’m not so sure about Barghouti.

    I know that many Palestinians do not trust him. They wonder why the Israelis might even consider releasing him, given that they show no signs of releasing other prisoners with minimal (if any) convictions. If the Israelis do go ahead and release Barghouti, they will do so for a reason. The suspicion is that Barghouti may well have been somewhat ‘tamed’ by Israel already, and would only be set free if he promises to behave – by Israel’s standards, of course.

  7. Matthew says:

    Tony: I find it funny that Peres has repeatedly moaned about wanting there to be a “Palestinian Mandela.” Interesting analogy. White South Africans considered Mandela a “terrorist” for opposing Apartheid and Mandela became the president of a new South Africa. If Peres wants a new Palestinian President of Israel, I totally support that idea!

  8. saifedean says:

    If I were to be asked to give two words that summarize why there is no peace in Palestine, I could hardly think of any better candidates than “Dennis” and “Ross”.

    This isn’t to say that this demented liar is the reason there is no peace; that would be giving a stupid minion like him too much credit. But what this says is that in a time when a despicable racist liar like Ross can get a job as a “mediator” of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis; use that job as a mercenary for the Israelis; get a free pass in propagating outright lies about his role in the process and the process itself; have his lies published in a book that sells massively and is then used by “experts” to justify positions on the Middle East; and continue to make millions portraying himself as an honest peacemaker–no wonder there is no peace in the Middle East.

    Ross is the “mediator” who was too upset that Barak offered too much concessions to the Palestinians, he even said: “If Barak offers anything more, I’ll be against this agreement.” Let’s remember that anything that Barak offered was at best a Bantustan solution that would’ve made the leaders of apartheid South Africa in the 1970’s look generous. Ross then made a career out of trumpeting these concessions as a “Generous Offer”.

  9. Shlomo says:

    I would sum it up with photos like this:

    I have never been nauseated looking at a photograph before, but this photograph nauseated me. Look at Senator McCain, with his serious face and his Kippah, touching the Western Wall. If you didn’t know him, you’de think he was a nice Jew, right? But wait, he’s actually not Jewish, he’s just a Christian pandering the evangelical vote. Now look at the voracious media horde that surrounds him. As an actual observant Jew, I would not dare to walk to the Western Wall with such a circus around me! But he doesn’t care, he’s not on Temple Mount to pray, just to “look Jewish” while disturbing people who are really praying.

    As it is with Judaism, so too with Jewish Nationalism AKA Zionism. The neocons and evangelicals ostentatiously parade around with their “Zionism”, when they really care nothing for Jews or the Jewish state. Evangelicals have their own motives for consistently militarizing Israeli policy. They talk a big game, but what they really do is drive Israel to ungodly acts! During the Second Lebanon War (“a war which should have never been fought, and should have never been authorized!”), who kept shielding Israel on the Security Council, and feeding them cluster bombs? Same folks as those who paraded around the Temple Mount today. And what did their lovely “Zionism” do for Israel, and for the Middle East? Only bad things for both, but they corresponded with the goals of neocons and whoever they could manipulate. Senator McCain, you’re no Zionist. Don’t touch my Wall, don’t touch my state. LEAVE!

    Please be honest.
    Was there ever a time when Black South Africans expressed overwhelming support for mass slaughter? 84% of Palestinians support the Mercaz Harav Massacre! How can we make a state with them?

  10. Y.Ben-David says:

    Slight correction, Tony. Your friend Barghouti is not in prison on “terrorism charges”. He is there because he was convicted of 5 counts of First Degree Murder. One of his victims was a girl who had attended my synagogue.

  11. Tony says:

    Shlomo — who knows, there never was any massacre of white people following a massacre of black people (as in Mercaz Harav the week after the latest IDF Gaza bloodbath), and nobody ever took opinion polls asking black South Africans what they thought. Under the circumstances, though, it’s quite conceivable that many, a majority even, would have seen such an action as payback — the ANC leadership certainly spent much of the 80s fighting hard against pressure from the rank and file black youth to avenge the regime’s killings by targeting white civilians…

    As for your question “how can we make a state with them,” the answer is, you already have. Since 1967, all of the Jews, Christians and Muslims living West of the Jordan River have been ruled by a single state. An apartheid state, but a single state nonetheles…

  12. Matthew says:

    Shlomo: Your reaction is justified. I have visited both the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock. As a Christian, it was important to be respectful to these religious sites and not “pimp” them for political gain. The misuse of religious institutions and religiosity makes me yearn for the Enlightenment.

  13. Matthew says:

    YBD: So which IDF soldiers (airmen) need to be jail for the first-degree murder of more than 40 Palestinian women and children during the last few weeks? And if we are going to show outrage about killing innocents, let’s show outrage….

  14. Matthew says:

    Tony: As to Shlomo’s question, wouldn’t it be more appropriate to ask Palestinians how they can negotiate with a people who don’t recognize their right to exist, who don’t believe that they have a right to live in a land of their birth, and who have watched the IDF kill more than 200 Palestinian civilians since the Annapolis conference? How can these Palestinians shake hands with the Zionists responsible for these atrocities?

    Answer: Because they have to. And the Zionists will have to negotiate with the Palestinians now…or when American power is removed from the ME and the Palestinian population is twice as large and the Arab states are requiring Western Corporations to sign “Sullivan Principles” to oppose Isareli Apartheid.

    Either way, they will find a way. Just like White South Africans did….

  15. Joshua says:

    We know how much an Israeli conviction means, don’t we?

  16. Abe Bird says:

    The problem is not “the Israeli jail” but the deadly terrorist soul of Marwan Barghouti. In day’s time he met the Israelis and talked “peace” and in night times he sent terror groups into Israel to make “pieces” of the Jews. If the peace is at steak that kind of promise is for vain. He won’t deliver the mission of peace; he will blow again the sensitive relations between the two sides. He should be rotten in jail.

  17. Abe Bird says:

    Joshua: “We know how much an Israeli conviction means, don’t we?”

    No, you don’t know. Even Jonathan Cook doesn’t know although he lives for some time in Nazaret. Jonathan Cook exposes the crook side of Arabian partners to piece talks.

  18. Abe Bird says:

    Palestinians: “We Don’t Deserve a State”
    Feb 3, 2007
    Apparently, Palestinians are worried that the civil war between Hamas and Fatah is going to damage their image with the international community: Palestinian W. Bank residents: ‘We don’t deserve a state’. .

    What’s happening now is showing the true nature of the death cult society the Palestinians have built for decades, indoctrinating their children to a life of murder, destruction, and genocide. With the security barrier, and determined action against the terror gangs, Israel has made it too difficult for them to murder helpless people in restaurants, buses, and markets. So they’re turning on each other like cornered rats.

    Palestinians brought that upon themselves for decades, thanks to Yassir Arafat and his cronies. Now it’s all bearing the fruits of their own doing.

    For decades, the palis have sowed hatred and violence, and today, they’re beginning to reap their harvest, and that harvest may be plentiful. It’s very unfortunate that innocent children get caught in this savagery.

    But pay no mind to any of this. Just continue to blame the Jews and the US presence in Iraq for all their problems.

  19. He is the happiness prisoner.
    He smile when he was arrested!!!

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