Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Fatah on Hamas: "Why should they get all the credit? We reject Israel too!"

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Despite the widely-trumpeted new reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah, the two factions appear to remain irreconcilable. This was noted in a Jerusalem Post report yesterday, quoting Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar.

According to Zahar - a co-founder of the Islamist group - Abbas only wants to continue postponing full reconciliation. The PA president is unfit to "meet the requirements of reconciliation," and has set untenable deadlines for the formation of a government early next year and legislative and presidential elections in May, Zahar told Asharq Alawsat.

Abbas's reliance on what Zahar called the "US-Israeli axis" also stunts the formation of a unity government with Hamas, because a Palestinian government including Hamas is not a welcome development in Washington ... "Israel is very comfortable regarding what the Palestinian Authority and its security apparatus is doing, and therefore the noise that is being made in some cases is nothing more than a deception to cover up the reality of the situation," Zahar told Ashaqr Alawsat.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) itself seems to resent these accusations of reliance on Israel. This was made clear by Adli Sadeq, the PA's ambassador to India, in an article written for PA newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida. The article, translated by Palestine Media Watch, unequivocally rejects the "common mistake or misconception" that the PA in any way recognises the right of Israel to exist. As Sadeq explains, this is merely a line of thinking that Israelis have "fooled themselves" into following.

"The demands of this enemy [Israel] are strange and amazing demands, unique in the history of conflicts... They [Israelis] are not satisfied with Palestinian recognition that is a function of their state and its existence, but want recognition of the eternal right of Israel to exist. Possibly their nature will bring them to ask for compensation for the years that have passed without their state's existence, during the time it had the right to exist upon our skulls... They have a common mistake, or misconception by which they fool themselves, assuming that Fatah accepts them and recognizes the right of their state to exist, and that it is Hamas alone that loathes them and does not recognize the right of this state to exist. They ignore the fact that this state, based on a fabricated [Zionist] enterprise, never had any shred of a right to exist... Hamas, Fatah and the others are not waging war against Israel right now for reasons related to balance of power. There are no two Palestinians who disagree over the fact that Israel exists, and recognition of it is restating the obvious, but recognition of its right to exist is something else, different from recognition of its [physical] existence."

Sedeq's remarks are illuminating of the tendency for many Western and Israeli commentators to patronisingly impute their own beliefs onto the Palestinians. There is no better example of this than Barack Obama in the first year of his presidency, when he assumed that a concession like the 10-month settlement freeze that he forced Israel into providing the Palestinians with would induce the PA to negotiate a peace deal.

As Obama and many before him have learned, this is simply not the case. Western politics, policy-making and media circles seem to consistently ignore what the Palestinians say in Arabic amongst themselves, focussing on their apparently more conciliatory  (but often ambiguous) statements made in English for Western consumption. An absurd situation arises where the Israeli government and the Palestinian government both agree that the Palestinians do not recognise Israel's right to exist, but journalists and analysts are telling the world that both are lying and the PA in fact does not mean what it says. They are denying the Palestinians a right to speak for themselves, as well as denying reality.

Even the English-language Palestinian media constantly rejects Israel's right to exist and denies any Jewish connection to the land. Take, for example, this report yesterday from the Palestinian Information Centre, which claims that the "Western Wall" in Jerusalem -- the last remnant of the ancient Jewish temple, as described in Jewish, Christian and Muslim scriptures -- is "falsely claimed" by Jews and is in fact part of a "comprehensive Zionist scheme to Judaize the whole area".

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Al-Aqsa foundation for endowment and heritage said Zionist religious parties renewed a plan to build synagogues under Al-Magariba Gate in the area adjacent to the Aqsa Mosque.

This Israeli plan poses a real threat to the Aqsa Mosque as it will expose Al-Nabi (Prophet) Gate which is located beneath Al-Magariba Gate and leads to the Mosque's underground areas, the foundation warned in a press release.

It added such Israeli construction would affect the structure of Al-Buraq wall (described falsely as wailing wall by Jews) and would lead to the demolition of historical Islamic and Arab antiquities and monuments.

This plan is part of a comprehensive Zionist scheme to Judaize the whole area of Al-Buraq wall above and under ground as Al-Aqsa foundation had warned earlier.

A two state solution remains the only way forward, and there is always a possibility that given a chance, the Palestinians would opt for pragmatism over ideology. Certainly, Israel is in no position to stop trying to reach a peace agreement.

That said, to ignore the words of the Palestinian Authority, which are supported by their current and past actions, and rather impute onto them a false longing forpeaceful coexistence is not only wishful thinking, but dangerous and likely to lead to another war. An unfortunate fact about reality is that it is often different to how we would like it to be - and to close our eyes and pretend that it really is the way we imagine it should be does nobody any favours.

Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz