Sunday, 24 September 2006

Dysfunctional Palestinians

"Palestinians never miss an opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot."

I heard that one decades ago, and it has never ceased to amaze me how doggedly they will prove it over and over again. Is there any more profoundly dysfunctional group of people on the planet?

Hamas and Fatah absolutely have to work together to pull the Palestinian Authority out of its morass, but Hamas absolutely refuses to do anything that implies a recognition of Israel, precisely what it needs to do to recover its funding. To complicate things, gunmen are threatening any political leaders that try to find a way out of their international isolation.
In Gaza City, meanwhile, two dozen Islamic militant gunmen threatened to attack any coalition that recognized Israel.

"We will fight against it by all means, and we will deal with it as an entity linked to the occupation," said one of the gunmen, who would only identify himself by his nom de guerre, Abu Abir.

The gunmen, who gathered outside a mosque, represent only a small splinter group. However, it marked the first time Palestinian militants said publicly they were prepared to attack government officials.

Nobody can accuse Hamas of being inconsistent. They have consistently lived in an alternate reality from day one. Consider their January offer of "hudna," as reported by
Al-Zahar refused to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, claiming that Hamas would decide that issue once they met his demands as set forth. Those demands include “to release our detainees; to stop their aggression; to make geographic link between Gaza Strip and West Bank”.

The substance of the above demands aside, the true insight into the subject offered by Hamas came with the qualifier that followed the demands, as al-Zahar concluded, “at that time, with assurance from other sides, we are going to accept to establish our independent state at that time, and give us one or two, 10, 15 years time in order to see what is the real intention of Israel after that.”

In short, if Israel releases all of its prisoners (not happening, as many are held on direct charges of acts of terrorism), pulls out of the West Bank entirely (including all settlements), ceases all operations (presumably including future operations in reaction to attacks by any other Palestinian-based terror group not recognizing a Hamas hudna), and gives them an additional swath of land from Israel proper in the Negev Desert that links Gaza and the West Bank, then Hamas will think about reconsidering their recognition of Israel.
Now isn't that a compelling bargaining position?

Hudna, by the way, refers to a temporary truce to be entered into when Muslims are in a position of weakness. So, let's recapitulate: give us everything we want, we will give you nothing in return, and then maybe, just maybe, we might temporarily concede that you have a right to exist. But just for a little while.

I'm willing to believe that even a total collapse of the Palestinian Authority will not bring these guys to their senses. Is there any way of breaking through that level of delusion? Perhaps if things get bad enough, the Palestinian people as a whole will get fed up and massively reject both the corrupt Fatah and the delusional Hamas, but I'm not holding my breath. It does seem to be the only possible way back to the real world though.

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