Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hamas Recognizes Israel - Again

For at least the third time, the senior leader of Hamas in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, has said that Hamas would recognize a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines. Verbatim the quote is:

"We accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the resolution of the issue of refugees."

And for at least the third time: This is a tacit recognition of the State of Israel. The 1967 line is not a one-sided border. There's someone on the other side. The recognition is not explicit, but it's enough. Haniyeh is making this statement in an attempt to make Hamas look moderate.* He knows Israel is not going to call him on it.

Israel needs to call him on it. Yes Hamas is being cynical. Yes Hamas is being manipulative. But Israel has ground to gain by holding Hamas to these words and pushing it to play a positive role in negotiations. Best case (and unlikely) scenario would be that Hamas negotiates these issues. Worst case scenario is that Hamas looks weak and flip-floppy, and unable to advance the interests of Palestinians. Either way Israel's security stands to gain.

*Hamas has justified its rocket attacks on Israel since 2005 based on "acts of aggression" by Israel, rather than on wanting to eliminate Israel altogether. Possible future blog post/paper/dissertation on this topic. But it links to the idea that Hamas tacitly recognizes Israel.

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