New Page 1

 Sunday, January 29, 2006

No Option Situation: ISRAEL and HAMAS Have to Cooperate


Other Breaking News

HAMAS will make Islamic law a source for legislation:Sheikh Mohammed Abu Tir, No. 2 on the Hamas list, said that the if his movement forms the next Palestinian government, it will make sharia, or Islamic law, a source of law in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. He told Canada's Globe and Mail that the government will modify the existing Palestinian education system to and institute a more Islamic curriculum, and will separate boys and girls.Read here for more

Read here full article by Anna Badkhen in San Francisco Chronicle

Hamas leaders say they NEVER will negotiate with Israel, a state the militant group has pledged to destroy.

Israeli leaders say they will NOT deal with Hamas, which swept to stunning victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections this week.

But in the crowded confines that Israel and the Palestinian territories occupy, confrontation is likely to take a back seat to the demands of day-to-day concerns, analysts say.

And some say the inevitable interaction between the two sides -- which once seemed impossible -- may push Hamas and Israel toward broader cooperation.

Naseer Aruri, professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and a former member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Central Committee said:
"It's inevitable that Hamas will be dealing with Israel ... in matters relating to infrastructure -- water, electricity, security, trade, crossing borders. "
Much of the Palestinian Authority's economy and infrastructure is tightly linked with Israel, which supplies the 3.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with water, electricity and telecommunications.

Any Palestinian government that wants to improve the lives of its people -- a pledge Hamas candidates made during the election and, according to opinion surveys, is a top priority for Palestinian voters -- will have to deal with Israel on such issues as utilities, border crossings, imports and exports.

But Israel cannot ignore Palestinian needs either unless it is prepared to endure an upsurge in violence, said Robert Malley, the Middle East program director at the International Crisis Group and a member of then-President Bill Clinton's negotiating team at Camp David in 2000.

According to Malley,
"It's not clear that the Israelis would benefit from the breakdown of Palestinian Authority, which would bring chaos, instability, renewed violence against Israel."
In fact, examples of cooperation between Hamas and Israeli officials already exist, he said. In the Palestinian town of Qalqilya, which sits on the border between Israel and the West Bank, acting mayor and Hamas functionary Hashem al-Masri has been talking with Israeli officials, negotiating the flow of electricity, garbage removal and sewage grids, said Malley, who visited al-Masri this month.

If the leaders of the two sides understand that such contact is inevitable, they are not showing it yet, at least publicly.

On Friday, acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert again ruled out negotiations with a Hamas government "if even part of it is an armed terrorist organization calling for the destruction of the state of Israel."

Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the Hamas movement in Syria, responded by pledging to continue resistance against the Israeli presence in the West Bank and military forays into the Gaza Strip.

"As long as there is occupation and so long as our people's rights are usurped, our stand will remain as it is. We would resist the occupation to restore our rights," Abu Marzouk told the Associated Press.

Some experts say Israel's tough talk is prompted at least partially by Israeli parliamentary elections, scheduled for March 28.

Olmert's moderate Kadima party will compete against the hard-line Likud party of Benjamin Netanyahu.

The incapacitation of charismatic Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the founder of Kadima who suffered a massive stroke early this month, makes Israel's political situation even more unsettled.

Shai Feldman, director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., said:

"The last thing that Olmert needs now is to provide ammunition to Likud to say: 'Olmert is advocating negotiations with Hamas,' Until

March 28, there will be very tough rhetoric.

After that, I think that of course everybody will have to begin to adjust to realities."

Surveys suggest that a majority of Israelis support talking to a Palestinian government led by Hamas.

A poll published Friday in the Israeli Maariv daily newspaper showed that 40 percent of Israelis believe Tel Aviv should talk with Hamas if it renounces its determination to destroy Israel, and another 27 percent said talks should be held with no conditions.

Only 29 percent of Israelis favor cutting off all contacts with the Palestinians, freezing talks and resuming "targeted" assassinations of Hamas leaders, the poll showed.

At the same time, Palestinian polls have consistently shown that majorities in the West Bank and Gaza believe in a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, signaling that most Palestinians will NOT be opposed to negotiations between Hamas and Israel.

And if Hamas wants to realize its election promises to restore order to lawless streets, cut unemployment and improve infrastructure, it will have to make concessions and deal with Israel, said Yossi Alpher, a former Mossad agent and co-editor of, an Israeli-Palestinian political Web-based magazine.

"They elected a movement which wants to destroy Israel ... and now they have a problem: How are they going to run Palestine, given the heavy dependency on Israel?" he said. "They might have to make some painful compromises."

One possibility, he said, is that Hamas sets up "a government of technocrats, so that we can talk to the prime minister or the minister of finance because they're not from Hamas," Alpher said. "But for that, Hamas would have to agree that even though it won the elections, it will stay on the sidelines ... basically admitting that they can't run Palestine."

Another option is that Hamas manages internal Palestinian affairs while delegating the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is the legal agent for negotiations with Israel, to talk to Israelis on all issues pertaining to infrastructure, said George Bisharat, a Palestinian activist and an adviser to the Oakland-based Institute for Middle East Understanding.

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said last week that his group would consider talks with Israel through a third party, and mentioned the PLO as a potential mediator.

"Ultimately both parties will have to deal with each other," Bisharat said.

  Go to Latest Posting

Comments 0