Forty years after the Six Day War peace between Israelis and Palestinians seems as distant as ever. Israel still refuses to accept the new Palestinian national unity government as a negotiating partner because Hamas is part of that government. What is the cause of this seeming paradox? Is there any hope?
The Palestinian government is united administratively, but divided politically. The Palestinians have one government with two policies. Politically, Palestine’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh remains against recognizing Israel and respecting the existing agreements. He declared that he is for the continuation of resistance in all forms. What kind of guarantee of a good faith effort to reach a peace agreement can come from such a stance?
That is the question the European Union needs to ask itself as it debates whether to resume providing financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. The EU should make it clear to Hamas that the Union is not going to finance terror and is not going to finance a refusal to make peace. If the Palestinians want to have European help – which I support completely – it must be ready to make peace, not to break peace. After all, it is not Hamas as a party that is objectionable; what is objectionable are the politics and policies which Hamas pursues. We have nothing against Hamas; we are against their belligerent policies, which service in government has not changed.
There was a time when the PLO held positions that were the same as those of Hamas. Then the PLO changed. If the current Palestinian leadership changes its position, there will be no problem from our side. We will have nothing against negotiations. We are for negotiations. We are for the “two-state solution.” We accept the Middle East “road map.” What we are against is terror.