22 April 2009

Hamas & Clinton & Netanyahu-Peace Dance Begins

Devil is in the details, always. Two days ago I wrote here about Netanyahu suddenly abandoning the mantra that Hamas must recognise Israel as a pre-condition to talks, see below:
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is no longer demanding that Palestinians recognize Israel as a "Jewish state" as a precondition for talks, according to a statement sent to Ma'an.

The prime minister's media advisor said that the Netanyahu "has never set this as a pre-condition for the opening of negotiations and dialogue with the Palestinians."

However, the statement went on to say that "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is insistent in his approach that recognition of Israel as the national state of the Jewish People is a matter of substance and principle that enjoys wide recognition in the country and around the world, without which it will not be possible to advance the diplomatic process and reach a peace settlement."

This is very telling. What it means is that talks will go forward, those talks will include Hamas, either directly or indirectly. My guess is that at this point it will be indirectly, through an intermediary. The signs have been taking shape. One big hint for me personally was when Gerry Adams went to Gaza. If you recall, Israel said he would not get in unless he said he would not meet with members of Hamas. He refused to give that stipulation and so Israel banned him for entry. Next day, suddenly he was inside Gaza. This after intervention by Tony Blair and most likely at the behest of Mitchell who Adams had met with a month prior in Washington when Adams going to Gaza was discussed. Additionally, Adams said he would be “reporting” to Mitchell after his visit. I believe the US government have asked for assistance from Adams. This is evident by the sudden reversal of the Israeli ban on his entry into Gaza. Afterall, Adams has a long history with both Blair and Mitchell, and on a lesser scale Hillary Clinton. Additionally he has met with Hamas and the PLO several times in the past, most recently in 2006.

Firstly, I can tell you that Hamas will never agree to this stipulation at this point in time and the US knows this. As for Israel and the US, Like it or not, Hamas has an electoral mandate, and as such should be included, otherwise nothing will ever come of any talks. To move forward without Hamas, would effectively say to the voting public that their elected officials AND their supporters and voters have no rights. Can't do this, it didn't work in Ireland and won't work in Palestine.

Then today I happened upon this article about Clinton saying that Hamas must recognise Israel, renounced violence and adhere to all previous agreements made by the PA. Upon first read you’d think this is in exact opposition to what Netanyahu said two days ago. However, look closer. What is really being said here is that “talks” can move forward without recognition, however, for the US to support the Palestinian government or fund such government, Hamas will have to agree to those terms. There will be a long time between those to point of “talks” and “government” of a Palestinian state. This would mean that the settlement issues and most of the serious issues Palestine has with Israel would be mostly resolved, before Hamas would be expected to meet those three requirements.

This is the peace process dance. It’s a process, and it will be a very long process at that. In Ireland it took many years, and the IRA did not disarm during talks or even after the Good Friday Agreement was voted for and partially implemented. I think the US is modelling much after the Irish peace process at this initial stage anyway. Clinton article below:
Clinton sets conditions on Palestinian govt with Hamas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday the United States would not deal with or fund a Palestinian government that includes Hamas unless the Palestinians meet three international conditions.

"We will not deal with nor in any way fund a Palestinian government that includes Hamas unless and until Hamas has renounced violence, recognized Israel and agrees to follow the previous obligations of the Palestinian Authority," Clinton told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committee.

"We want to leave the door open" to including Hamas, Clinton said.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged Israel and the Palestinians to "step back from the abyss" and invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for separate talks in early June.