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Key Hamas leader accepts 1967 borders, embraces pragmatism

An interview with a key Hamas figure in al-Monitor published Friday explores a pragmatic potential and a shift in tactics for the movement.

‘Pragmatic’ is certainly the word interviewer Shlomi Eldar, one of Israel’s top television reporters covering Palestinian affairs, wants readers to remember. His subject is Dr. Ghazi Hamad, currently Deputy Foreign Minister of the Hamas leadership in Gaza, heads the “pragmatic wing” of Hamas and the interview is all about the changes of policy, external relations, and possibly even ideology.

Three specific points are worth noting, two internal and one related to Israel:

First, in the context of Palestinian politics, Hamad works to convey institutional legitimacy. He emphasizes that Mashal was re-elected to the head of the political bureau through a participatory political process:

First of all, we must remember that these were democratic elections, and as such, they are a credit to the movement. Elections for Hamas’ other institutions ended a year ago, and that was the last time that the Hamas movement expressed confidence in its leaders

He may have been overstating the “democratic” case – it’s not exactly a popular primary but the top layer of a multi-layered delegate structure – the shura council – that elected Mashal. Still, Hamad clearly wants to convey the legitimacy of the decision-making process and political maturity.

Second, he stresses the commitment to advancing the long-stagnant plan for Hamas-Fatah reconciliation. Hamad discusses some of the mechanics of how this could happen, which indicates a serious effort and also highlights a change from the past.

There is an extensive political and diplomatic program which we must advocate and work toward, and that includes joining the official institutions of the PLO. Those are our objectives, and that is our new approach.

Should this come to pass, it could help erode Israel’s widely-embraced notion that there is “no partner,” because the Palestinian leadership is too divided to agree or implement an accord.

Finally, with relation to Israel, Hamad states openly that Hamas accepts 1967 borders without recognizing Israel. It’s not the first time Hamas has indicated support for 1967 as the basic borders. Khaled Mashal stated so last November, in a CNN interview on the day of the ceasefire that ended the Pillar of Defense war in Gaza:

We have two options… the way of peace and a Palestinian state, according to the border of 1967 with the right to return. And this is something we have agreed upon as Palestinians, as a common program.

But it was an ambiguous time. Just a few weeks later, when the UN held a vote on accepting Palestine based on the 1967 borders as a non-member observer state, Hamas flip-flopped, eventually lending grudging support. A year earlier, when the possibility of a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) also arose, Hamas figures roundly rejected the idea, calling it “nonsense” and a “scam.” The fact that Hamad now explicitly and repeatedly states acceptance of ‘67 lines, to an Israeli interviewer, shows much greater clarity on this policy issue.

But in the same breath Hamas says: “We do not say ‘two states,’” and “Hamas does not recognize Israel.”

What does this mean? In fact, it is only confusing if one fails to appreciate the symbolic aspect of politics, diplomacy, conflict and political change. Hamas has opted to become a player rooted in the world of political facts, rather than fantasies that are de-linked from reality. In reality, its leaders know that there will be no Palestinian state west of the Green Line, and its policy statements reflect that.

But Hamas is also a symbol of political community. It is the community of resistance against Israel (“as long as the occupation continues,” he says. If Palestine is 1967, then this is a finite struggle). It also distinguishes them from Fatah, which is increasingly identified with failure to end the occupation, or even blamed for perpetuating it.

Violence was once the primary meaning of “resistance.” Yet Hamas has largely relinquished violence now: Hamad emphasizes that “armed struggle remains a right,” but that “popular uprising” (the term for the unarmed protests – ds) is the tactical preference.

Hamas put a stop to its resistance [terrorist attacks]. It respects the cease-fire. There has been a major change in policy.

Therefore the remaining symbol of Hamas’ political identity is resistance to recognizing Israel – a symbolic measure in itself, for it affects the life of no one. It clings to this even as its policies now acknowledge political facts.

Further, recognition in any formal form will be a major symbolic concession to the other side. Israel will probably eventually negotiate with Hamas, in some combination with other Palestinian leaders. Recognition of Israel is also a bargaining chip for that stage; one that would not logically be surrendered beforehand.

Deeply committed ideological players in a conflict cannot be expected to change rapidly or openly, and their symbolic identity will be the last to go. But consider this: Mustafa Akyol reads Israel’s apology to Turkey as a sign of incremental openness to dealing with moderate Islamic political forces. By analogy, we might hope that Hamas’ empirical analysis of the situation has shifted, and its policy has followed. Maybe its symbolic stance is next in line.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Kolumn9

      You are being generous to Hamas here.

      Another explanation of the inconsistency in the position between accepting a state within the 1967 borders and rejecting Israel is the desire to continue the conflict with Israel on more advantageous terms after achieving a sovereign state with a military. This explanation does not require one to resort to talmudic dissection of symbolic aspects of politics, diplomacy, conflict and political change since it is entirely consistent with Hamas’s declared long-term objective of destroying Israel.

      Hamas has made a strategic decision to take over the PLO. In order to do so they need to come up with a political program that on the face of it sounds less … genocidal. However, until they make the ideological choice of actually making peace with Israel rather than just accepting the idea that control of more land would be beneficial to them (which is all that Hamad really says) there is really very little to discuss with Hamas.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Zephon

      As far as I am concerned, it really doesn’t matter what Hamas accepts or doesn’t; they don’t represent anybody but themselves, and a two state solution ensures their survival.

      Whereas a one state bi-national Israel would take away their influence and power. Two states will always clash ( Britain, Ireland, Korea, Sudan etc. ) thus Hamas would remain relevant. But if Palestinians were given the privileges Israelis enjoy – it ensures Israels survival and Hamas’ destruction. They’re only objective is to stay relevant and to do that they need a two state solution – they need conflict. Destroying Israel is not in the cards at all, they lose their scapegoat and their boogie man the moment Israel is gone – they don’t want that.

      A Bi-national Israel is their greatest fear and the ONLY future that ensures that EVERYONE has a right to exist – as peace becomes a reality.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        ” the moment Israel is gone – they don’t want that.”

        Monkey logic.

        Reply to Comment
        • Leen

          It is their ‘raison d’etre’. Without Israel, Hamas wouldn’t exist.

          Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >it really doesn’t matter what Hamas accepts or doesn’t; they don’t represent anybody but themselves

        Palestinian Arabs who elected Hamas are nobody?

        Good to know.

        Reply to Comment
        • Leen

          As you know, their election terms have expired. Meaning they are figuratively functioning as an authoritarian state.

          Reply to Comment
      • mahmoud Rateb

        Zephon, we have an Arab saying”I like what I hear but am surprised at what you do”.Treat Palestinians as human beings and live in peace.You are systematically grabbing their land,destroying their fields and syphoning their water,let alone killing kids.You did not respect any peace agreement,support any peace initiative (agreeing while at the same time changing facts on the ground).You cannot have peace while grabbing land

        Reply to Comment
    3. Tzutzik

      “It is their ‘raison d’etre’. Without Israel, Hamas wouldn’t exist.”

      Wow, I love it. Why didn’t I think of that?

      If Israel allows itself to be destroyed, then Hamas won’t have a reason to exist and it too would implode.

      Seriously though, IT IS monkey logic.

      Reply to Comment
      • Leen

        It wouldn’t though.
        Before the 2009 gaza assault, hamas’s popularity was plunging. After the assault, it soared.

        I guarantee you there will be no need for Hamas if Israel in its current form doesn’t exist. Hamas would probably cease to exist as there is no ‘raison d’etre’ anymore. Hamas’s popularity is only boosted after Israeli assaults, and not before. WHich is also why I suspect Hamas keeps engaging with Israel.

        Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          “I guarantee you there will be no need for Hamas if Israel in its current form doesn’t exist.”

          OK Leen, you better explain what you mean by the term “Israel in it’s current form”.

          I don’t want to be accused of misrepresenting you when I will respond to you. So before I do, I need to understand what you mean.

          Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Still no explanation, Leen? Was my question too hard?

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            Well, I have two jobs and a life, so apologies for the late reply.

            Israel that currently holds discriminatory laws against its Arab citizens, Israel with its occupation, with its apartheid-like policies. (And for my personal secular beliefs, Israel as a Jewish state should not be, because religion should not be involved in politics).

            If Israel was more like Switzerland or Norway, you can bet Hamas would be done by tomorrow.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “Well, I have two jobs and a life, so apologies for the late reply.”

            Nah, Leen, no need to apologise for the late reply. I know why you did not respond.

            “Israel that currently holds discriminatory laws against its Arab citizens,”

            Really? There is only one discriminatory law that I am aware of. The immigration law and most Israelis won’t apologise for that one. That law is needed to keep Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

            Can you name any other discriminatory law?

            “Israel with its occupation”

            How do you propose Israel should end the occupation? Withdraw unilaterally?

            Israel offered three peace deals in the last decade. All of which would have ended the occupation. All were ignored. Not only ignored, but the one offered in 2000 provoked a violent Intifada.

            “with its apartheid-like policies.”

            What apartheid policies? You mean the security measures that Israel took to prevent suicide bombings of it’s citizens?

            “(And for my personal secular beliefs, Israel as a Jewish state should not be, because religion should not be involved in politics).”

            Most of us Israelis are secular yet we are Jewish. How do you explain that?

            Hint; because Judaism is not just a religion. It is a nationality. So Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people in the same way that England is the nation state of the English people. It is just coincidental that most English people happen to believe in the Anglican religion.

            Given that there are 24 Arab nations most of which have Islam ast their formal religion, I fail to see why the one Jewish state seems to be such a thorn to you people.

            “If Israel was more like Switzerland or Norway, you can bet Hamas would be done by tomorrow.”

            You got the order back the front Leen. If the Middle East would be more like Scandinavia and the likes of Hamas would not be the order of the day in the Middle East, then Israel too would be more like Switzerland and Norway.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            Wow Tzutzik, you know me so well.
            Actually, so far Adalah lists 30 different main discriminatory laws, which also include land laws (actually most of the discriminatory laws are land laws).

            I didn’t suggest any proposals, I simply said Israel in its current form is not viable in the long term. I believe the Gatekeepers have touched upon this that this long-term strategy is not working. Well, they are the experts, not me.

            Actually, based on a lot of discussions with people here, apparently you forefeit your right to be ‘jewish’ if you convert. Hence Jewishness is not solely a nationality, you cannot forfeit your nationality if you convert, becuase a nationality is something you are born with arguably.
            And no it isn’t secular. If you fine people working on Shabbat and Yom Kippur, you pretty much lose your ‘secular’ card.
            I am against a Jewish State of ISrael as much as I am against an Islamic state of Iran.

            You talk of Switzerland and Norway as though being a liberal democracy is a bad thing.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “Wow Tzutzik, you know me so well.”

            Yes, you are a dime a dozen.

            “Actually, so far Adalah lists 30 different main discriminatory laws, which also include land laws (actually most of the discriminatory laws are land laws).”

            Name one

            “I didn’t suggest any proposals, I simply said Israel in its current form is not viable in the long term.”

            You are wrong. An Israel which is NOT in it’s current form is not viable. It was established as the one place on this earth where Jews are NOT a minority. This was necessary so that we Jews will be able to defend ourselves from those who could so easily persecute us when we were a minority. Israel was the answer to 2000 years of persecution of Jews.

            Those who hate us now turned their sole attention on Israel but they will not succeed.

            “I believe the Gatekeepers have touched upon this that this long-term strategy is not working. Well, they are the experts, not me.”

            Neither you nor are they the experts. You are just people with opinions.

            “Actually, based on a lot of discussions with people here, apparently you forefeit your right to be ‘jewish’ if you convert. Hence Jewishness is not solely a nationality, you cannot forfeit your nationality if you convert, becuase a nationality is something you are born with arguably.”

            Here is news for you. Israeli Jewish citizens who convert to another religion will still remain Israeli citizens.

            “And no it isn’t secular. If you fine people working on Shabbat and Yom Kippur, you pretty much lose your ‘secular’ card.”

            Really? That is news to me. I thought such behaviour is the very thing that makes me non religious and secular.

            “I am against a Jewish State of ISrael as much as I am against an Islamic state of Iran.”

            Well then go and dismantle Iran. And Egypt and Libya and Tunis and Saudi Arabia and other Arab theocracies. Then come and talk to us about the one and only Jewish state.

            By the way, did you know that by your definition, England is a theocracy? Their OFFICIAL state religion is Anglicanism and the Queen is their spiritual leader. Go check it up.

            “You talk of Switzerland and Norway as though being a liberal democracy is a bad thing.”

            Really? Where did I say that? I don’t even recall implying that. Do you know why? Because I don’t think that a liberal democracy is bad.

            But thanks for trying to put words in my mouth.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            And you can be Jewish and secular. Secularism is not absence of faith, just that faith does not belong the political sphere.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Secularity (adjective form secular,[1] from Latin saecularis meaning “worldly” or “temporal”) is the state of being separate from religion, or not being exclusively allied or against any particular religion.

            That makes me secular, Leen.

            But I AM part of the Jewish people. Religion itself does not do much for me.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jon

            +1

            Reply to Comment
    4. Aaron Gross

      This column is an excellent illustration of the blindness of the Zionist left. Referring to statements by Hamas about “the occupation” (which began in 1948, of course): “if Palestine is 1967, then this is a finite struggle.” Well, yeah.

      Also in the article: “popular uprising” means nonviolent protests. OK, but what does “nonviolent” mean? Stones and molotov cocktails, no guns.

      But all that’s OK, because this is all about “the symbolic aspect of politics.”

      Reply to Comment
    5. Aaron Gross

      Re different world views: Here’s something I’ve noticed about myself and about others, too, I think. I get more frustrated with factual disagreements than I do with normative disagreements. Anyone else notice the same?

      Some on the Zionist left, such as Noam Sheizaf, see the situation pretty much the same as I do. Others, such as Dahlia Scheindlin, have what I’d call a delusional view of the situation. (I’m sure my interpretation looks just as delusional to her.) Both Scheindlin and Sheizaf support similar policies, but when I read articles like this it just frustrates me, whereas when I read articles by Sheizaf I respect them because we mostly agree on the facts, on what is.

      You’d think that disagreement on what is would be less aggravating than disagreement on what should be done, but in fact it’s the opposite.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ideology significantly determines what an important fact is. You point out stones are violent; Noam and Dahlia probably agree, but perhaps say that should not deter an understanding of nonviolent action in the Bank. You may be inclined to see the stones as implied havoc to come; they may see them as a natural consequence of daily occupation of a rather brute uncaring kind. If Palestinian youth violence is innate, your observation of the fact of stones is focal. If it is an evolved cosequence of IDF policy, the same fact signals something else. Facts are not neutral; they are variously highlighted by theory of some kind or another. We get frustrated when “our” crucial facts are ignored because that means our sure ideology/theory is being denied or ignored.

        Reply to Comment
        • Aaron Gross

          Yeah, I was thinking something very similar. It’s a truism that ostensibly moral (normative) disagreements are, at bottom, often just factual disagreements. But that’s misleading, because our factual view of the world is strongly influenced by our values and morality.

          By facts, I actually meant things like, for instance, whether Hamas means the post-1967 occupation when they say “the occupation.” That’s something that I think can be known, though uncertainly. But disagreement over that factual question closely follows ideological lines.

          Reply to Comment
          • I don’t think there is a single Hamas anymore than I think there is a single Israel. If I really thought the latter, given my views on occupation, I could not care about the Declaration of Independence–but I do, greatly.

            As I said below, I think there are network struggles in Hamas (which vary in intensity and importance), some of which are really all about domestic network outcomes. I recall that the military wing of Hamas, resident in Syria, told the political wing not to run in Council elections; well, his predictions turned out right. But the political wing ran anyway. There can be differences within. From your perspective, they may be too slight. As to 67 boarders (which is kind of easy since we know that will never happen completely), I can see a path whereby Hamas in majority network agrees. That now? Probably a way of getting reduced in or kicked out of the network.

            Reply to Comment
          • Aaron Gross

            Sure, any movement has many voices. Even if you narrow it down to just one given Hamas figure, he’d still have many voices (if he’s any good). But there’s some range of opinion that characterizes the organization as a whole. Therefore, there are some propositions of the form “Hamas believes that…” that are false, even if there might not be any propositions of that form that are completely true.

            Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        The same is true for me. I think the difference between the approaches is from which end to start the analysis. Dahlia starts from the desired outcome based on her moral outlook and projects backwards. If Hamas “should” eventually become moderate then its leader’s words can be judged based on how they fit into the desired outcome. This may or may not be conscious on Dahlia’s part but neither is it unusual (the bias isn’t limited to the left). Noam starts from the existing situation where there is much less possible disagreement on the facts on the ground.

        Reply to Comment
    6. Richard Witty

      They need to unify.

      Israel needs them to unify.

      So, they can proceed to establish two democratic, viable states.

      There is no Palestinian Palestine in a single state (it would quickly become Judaized particularly in the sentimentally significant areas).

      To retain Palestinian identity, they must adopt partition.

      It would hasten it to state that they accept that Israel is Israel, and seek to reconcile.

      Reply to Comment
    7. 1) “Elections for Hamas’ other institutions ended a year ago, and that was the last time that the Hamas movement expressed confidence in its leaders” : Hamas doesn’t opperate with an independent state government, but via a network of allocation and policing; when the network becomes alienated from decisions made, allocation generally and in crises suffers. Even a hierarchical “democracy” helps realign the network with tiered leadership.

      2) Mandela never condemned violence but made negotiation strategic, providing a middle ground within the movement. It is possible some in Hamas want to do the same.

      3) The 67 boarders isn’t new, really. After its Legislative Council win, Hamas offered a 10 year truce, which is a move in that direction.

      4) recognizing Israel: I think that if the occupation is somehow removed, the evolved logic would be that “aggressive Zionism” is now gone, making recognition of Israel possible; that is, it will be said Israel has changed itself into bare acceptability.

      Ideological positions within Hamas involve network competition for access, allocation, policing, placement. Such competition can be rather atenuated to the outside world. Witness North Korea, where Kim family connections in conflict with the military allocation of resources has rampt possible decision to alarming level.

      Reply to Comment
      • Shmuel

        “4) recognizing Israel: I think that if the occupation is somehow removed,”

        Somehow? That sounds nebulous, doesn’t it Greg?

        To me there is ONE clear way to end the occupation. Through NEGOTIATIONS and COMPROMISE by BOTH sides.

        Those of you who expect that Israel will somehow be bluffed into ending it unilaterally if only the Palestinian Arabs find the right formula of non violent resistance and world pressure, are just kidding yourselves. And not only that, you are contributing to prolonging the conflict. Because no Israeli government can allow itself to be bullied into giving up EVERYTHING and getting nothing in return.

        “the evolved logic would be that “aggressive Zionism” is now gone,”

        What aggressive Zionism? The one that stands up for the rights of it’s own citizens? And self determination for the Jewish people? Dream on. It will never be gone. Unlike some other Jews, the types you may be used to, Greg, Israeli Jews believe in self defense.

        “making recognition of Israel possible; that is, it will be said Israel has changed itself into bare acceptability.”

        So Your formula is for Israel to first give in unconditionally to all demands and then, YOU claim, the Palestinian Arabs will recognise Israel?

        That is not acceptable to us Greg because there isn’t a guarantee that what you promise would happen.

        How do we know? Because there was a time (before 1967) when there was NO occupation yet the Palestinian Arabs refused to recognise Israel. Not only that, there was aggressive Pan Arabism which physically attacked Israel and openly declared their intention to destroy Israel.

        Reply to Comment
        • I was suggesting how Israel might be reframed by the other side(s), not my own view. But I am not surprised you didn’t make the distinction. And they will have to reframe things.

          By “somehow” I mean just that–somehow. As to nonviolence, it is not one way at all. It would change social relations in the Bank, to some extent. Sucess and how far, I cannot know.

          I have no “formula.” Nor do I think you have a single “us.” Polls indicate that the settlers could be untied to government financing in the right circumstances. As to aggressive Zionism–do you really think that is NOT the way settler behavior is framed by Bank residents? I was trying to articulate changes in frames that might ocurr; you took them as attacks on “us.” In a zero sum world this is expected. The suicide bombers wanted a zero sum world; maybe you do too.

          Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            Aha Greg, you are talking about how they frame us? Not what you advocate? Why didn’t you say so in the first place? That would have made my response much more simple.

            This is how they frame us Greg; They think we have no right to be anywhere in the Middle East. They don’t want Israel to exist. Ok, let me correct the above a little bit; that’s what most of them want. There are a few more reasonable ones amongst them but they are a minority.

            So thats why they relate to all Israelis the way they do. Not just to settlers but to all of us. And that then sets the pattern of our behaviour towards them in return. We don’t turn the other cheek. Most other people in our place wouldn’t either.

            Reply to Comment
    8. XYZ

      There is no significance whatsoever to “concessions” made by high-ranking officials in media interviews. They are part of the psychological warfare conducted by HAMAS. Just like Abbas talking about a supposed willingness not to demand full implementation of the ‘right of return’ for all of the Palestinian refugees. That was immmediately denounced by FATAH officials and others. The problem with Israeli Leftists who get excited by things like this is that they are overly influenced by the Eastern European Marxist roots of their political movements. There, what is important is the ‘party line’. Sometimes a trial balloon is launched regarding a change in the line and the balloon is a warning to those below in the political structure to change their thinking. The Arab world does not work this way. Arab leaders are remarkably consistent in staying loyal to basic goals and policies.
      If HAMAS really wanted to indicate a change in policy, it would be made in a formal speech by the leader after approval by the party’s leadership. There is nothing of the sort here.

      Reply to Comment
      • I really doubt Dahlia is a Marxist; I’m not sure Marx could handle feminism (who would do the cooking while he wrote?).

        There were those who said Mandela’s kind would never change–he was, after all, black. I think ideology can change as part of network reformation and competition therein. I suspect the “balloon” Dahlia reports here is mostly directed internally. But as I said to Aaron, above, the military commander advised against running in Council elections; the political wing did so anyway. And look whose prediction turned out right. I don’t like where Hamas has been. But I have an idea how it got there. Jimmy Carter didn’t like what Hamas did either–but he said, talk to them. On the bright side, Gorbachev turned out a bit different, didn’t he?

        Reply to Comment
    9. XYZ

      I did not mean to imply that Dahlia or anyone else on the maintstream Israeli Left (Labor-MERETZ) is a “Marxist” today. What I mean is that their political thinking is heavily influenced by Marxist political thinking WITHOUT necessarily the ideological socialism. For example things like “class struggle” have morphed into demonization of the settlers or of Netanyahu. Another examples is delegitimization of the political opposition to the Left, unlike the British or American concept of the “loyal opposition”.

      You are quite right about Gorbachev, but we must remembert that Arab religious and national conciousness and values predate Gorbachev’s old Marxism-Leninism by many centuries and they are much more deeply rooted in the Arab/Muslim population than Marxism-Leninism ever was.
      Sadat did make significant changes in how official Egypt related to Israel and to peace, but you see what happened to him. Although I don’t have the figures, I believe that Nasser is a much more revered figure in Egypt today than Sadat is.

      Reply to Comment
      • Prior to Gorbachev, the prevalent view was that the Soviet had existed for four generations and that the ruling hierarchy would never change. Your general line on “Arabs,” besides locking them all into a single fixed type, fails to distinguish what may be happening to change sociality in the Bank. I would focus not on Egypt, Syria, Libya, but on the Bank. If you make all Arabs identical everywhere you can safely conclude change is eons off. Yes, the hard boot feels safer than exploring risk–but illusory so, I think.

        Sadat’s peace forced an ideological shift in the ruling party; he died for it. Abbas is as about as “peace oriented” as any Arab leader, even the King of Jordan. Yet he stands humiliated. When he makes an overture on the right of return, you decry it as false. When he plays the only card he has at the UN, you condemn. Your opponent will not be what you want. I think Abbas sees that; it seems the Israeli national right generally does not. From my decades old two visits to Israel I recall one phrase heard repeatedly: “It must be so.” Seems it is still being said.

        Reply to Comment
        • XYZ

          I have repeatedly heard the criticism of my postings saying that I paint the Arabs with a single brush and this is “too simplistic”. Okay, please give me examples of Arab leaders or spokesmen or movements who say that Zionism is a legitimate movement, that Jews are a people deserving of self-determination in the Middle East and that they support the idea of “two states for two PEOPLES”, a phrase Palestinian spokesmen never use, always deleting the word “peoples”.

          Reply to Comment
          • You have a sizeable Arab citizenry in your land. I don’t think an exterior leader has much reason to walk into that bit of internal affairs. This has been Abbas’ position. When Abbas said he might want the right to visit but not live in the area of his birth I think you got considerable give on right of return. Others won’t do it because 1) it is a verbal weapon; 2) the consequences for exterior refugees (riots?) are unpredictable.

            As to Zionism as free ingress into Israel, as a member of the UN, admitted through the affirmation of your Declaration of Independence, you have that. But each settler placed in the Bank undermines any willingness to accept such, locally. Now you have settlers giving birth in the Bank; how can these innocent children be removed from thier homeland? Upshot: annexation de facto. Few Arabs are going to talk about free ingress of Jews into Israel under this reality. You have the ability to control the settlers through law but do not. You are going to lose Two Peoples on your own.

            Reply to Comment
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