Or: When What was, wasn’t. What is, isn’t. What will be, won’t.
The contraditions are extraordinary.
In recent and current (now broken) ceasefire talks between Israel and the Palestinian delegation, as mediated by Egypt, the Jewish State has refused to accept the re-opening of the Gaza borders as long as Hamas remains armed and in power.
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On its face, this sounds logical to an outside observer. After all, Hamas has been recognized as a violent terror organization bent on the destruction of Israel and the complete genocide the Jews, by the U.S., the E.U. and many other nations.
Publicly, Israel has said that it would be more inclined to accept the re-opening of the borders as long as the Hamas is defanged and the Palestinian Authority, headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas (aka: Abu Mazen), take over Gaza’s power of the gun once more.
Part of this desire to see the PA in charge of the Gaza Strip again is the perception of Mr. Abbas as a supporter of a peaceful, two-state solution reached through dialogue, rather than violence.
So in the comparison of one bad apple to one horrible apple, the argument seems well-reasoned. Indeed, it seems to even have support from key players in Israel as well as diplomatic powers around the world.
Yet when you take a second look at it, the idea of allowing the PA to stand guard in Gaza is nothing short of naive.
After all, it was under the PA’s watch that the many millions of dollars worth of homes, schools and greenhouses, let alone places of worship, were destroyed when Israel unilaterally pulled out of Gaza. Rather than transforming these wonderful and valuable assets into places proving Palestinians’ peaceful projections, the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of President Abbas decided to wipe out any trace of the Jewish legacy of contributing to the development of land and life in Gaza from 1967 – 2005.
And we are talking about the same Palestinian Authority who under the leadership of its former President, Yasser Arafat, launched a Second Intifada against Israel, which used suicide bombers, gunmen and knife-wielding terrorists, among other weapons in its attacks against the Zionist nation.
And that’s not the half of it.
Just hours and days before the latest Israel-Gaza war began, the Israeli Government had flatly rejected for calls from Washington, Paris and elsewhere, to re-enter negotiations with a PA that included Hamas. Israel, it was argued by Jerusalem, thought it was wrong to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority as long as it spoke about peace on one hand, yet supported the illegitimate violent resistance movement bent on killing every Jew in the world and destroying the entire nation that is Israel, including its Druze, Christians, Muslims and other people who identify with Israel.
That same Palestinian Authority, whose recent political agreement between factions Fatah (the PLO’s party) and Hamas, is known to have called its recent political power-sharing deal as the Unity Government, and they are aimed at re-establishing a political bond between the people of two separate lands, each on a different side of Israel.
Despite the smoke and mirrors of war, and in spite of international pressure to force Abu Mazen to do more to stop the terror attacks from Gaza against Israel, and despite Mr. Mazen’s own words calling for Hamas to stop attacking Israel in futility or face the consequences, that so-called Palestinian Unity Government still stands and holds its line today.
So what we have now is a situation in which Israel says it would be willing to make a deal for a long-term and hopefully permanent ceasefire, with the very same PA that includes the very same Hamas that it says it will not deal with, especially as long as they remain armed and clinging to their charter that calls for Israel’s annihilation and the mass-murder of every single Jewish person and other friends of Israel.
Diplomats argue that there are nuances between the military wing of Hamas and the political wing of Hamas, and that the technocrats from Hamas serving in the Unity Government are relatively reasonable and can be dealt with, despite the slogans and chants heard from rooftops across Gaza every single day and night. The argument is also made that if Hamas is disarmed and Gaza is demilitarized, then there is no problem in having the PA take over the guns in Gaza, and continuing the currently stalled peace negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah.
How completely short-sighted are these observers, diplomats and politicians?
Does anyone really believe that the fanatical gunmen, rocket shooters and other terrorists of Hamas will simply give up their perverse, extremist Islamist ideology and accept making peace with the State of Israel, simply because President Abbas is in officially in charge? Do you really think that wearing a different badge or uniform will get the killers stop shooting at Israel and otherwise give up their ways? Let me remind you that so far, despite the existence of the Palestinian Unity Government, they have completely refused and rejected this notion.
What seems to be largely ignored is that even if technocrats can talk a good game, the fact is that if and when the PA “takes over” Gaza’s guns again, it will in all probability fail to be anything more than just cosmetic. If the PA re-establishes its presence in Gaza, the men who hold the guns will indeed be Hamas fighters. All they will have done is switched uniforms. That does not undo decades of extremist brainwashing. And even if the PA somehow keeps out active Hamas gunmen from its ranks in Gaza, the PA is still run by a government that includes Hamas, so its armed wing will still remain a dangerous component, endlessly pushing the Palestinian politicians to carry out attacks against Israel, or plotting to do it on their own, while the powers-that-be in Ramallah look the other way.
So the very idea that Israel should come to terms with the fact that the PA is legally in charge of Gaza should be a sober reminder to anyone who understands the situation, that the entire idea of defanging Hamas while replacing it with the PA, is ludicrous.
If the PA wanted peace, it could have done so at any point since its inception, on the eve of the signing of the Oslo accords, at the White House, under the watch of then-President Bill Clinton in 1993. Instead, they have spent the last 21 years doing everything possible to reject the responsibility of statehood, using every trick in the still-angry-teenager’s handbook on How to have your State and eat it too.
The very suggestion by Israeli leaders or anyone else, that it is willing and hopeful to restore calm and establish a real and lasting peace between Israel and the PA, is therefore flawed at best, and flat-out crazy at worst.
History has shown that the PA are frankly no better than the Hamas, even if they simply lack the radicalism inspired by jihad or the rockets and tunnels on which Hamas has spent hundreds of millions of dollars it received, under previous failed international monitoring. Remember too that the PA’s leaders have absconded with billions of dollars in international funding and aid. When it comes to financial corruption and fiscal misapropriations, Hamas doesn’t add up to a hill of beans next to the mountain of PA corruption. Lest we forget, it is this very corruption that was used as a casus belli by Hamas when it violently overthrew the PA from power in Gaza shortly after Israel uprooted itself from Gaza.
And yes, even though Hamas has ruled Gaza (in failure) for about eight years now, the Palestinian Authority has also not made any real progress with Israel in that time. Instead, they continue their pilfering ways and their culture of corruption in Judea and Samaria (aka: the West Bank).
So the notion that Israel is willing to work with the PA once Hamas hands over its weapons, is a pipedream in the best scenario, and a pure act of political theatre on the other end of possible explanations for its reasoning.
The truth is also that while Israel as a nation and Israelis as a people want nothing more than peace and prosperity for all people, especially between themselves and the Palestinian people, Israel’s political leaders do not genuinely want peace. If Israel’s governments in the last 21 years had wanted peace, they might have tried some very different and more practical solutions to attaining peace. They could have invested more in positive collaboration between Israelis and Palestinians. They could have applied pressure where it matters, on Palestinian education, to stop inculcating generation after generation of Palestinian children to hate Israel and Jews in general. They could have eased and eliminated a wide host of restrictions put in place against the Palestinian people, businesses and orgzations that it knows are not aligned with violence as a political means.
So why did Israel not do these things despite having certain massive advantages against the Palestinians? Well, the sad fact is that that Israel’s leaders are deeply invested in Israel’s military establishment, including its defense and weapons industry. Israel’s leaders see a managed conflict as an option that allows its military and political establishment to contain the warfare between Israel and Palestinian groups, while at the same time letting its army keep in shape, and making it easy to develop and prove new combat systems. These combat systems, mind you, are worth billions of dollars in annual revenues from sales to the IDF and foreign customers around the world. And while it may be very justifiable to have a defense industry in a nation surrounded by growing Islamist extremism, it is important to remember that the justification is not well-made. It would be better if it were at least declared once to the purse that pays for its ways.
In conclusion, what really holds back any chance of a long-term ceasefire and peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians is what both of them say on the one hand, and do on the other. In other words, the thing that kills any chance of real peace in this conflict is the politicians and their utter hypocrisy.
Full disclosure: When not inking opinions and artistic license with a laugh in the madness of wartime, Yasha Harari has composed music and written songs of peace, love and war, performed for millions of people, built and torn down homes in Jerusalem and invested in music, the internet, media and political organizations in the U.S., Europe and Israel.