Posted on 23rd July 2012, by & filed under Fatah, Hamas victory, Jeff Halper, Uni-lateral approach.

The Hamas victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections is a triumph of the uni-lateral approach that has dominated Israeli politics since its 1967 military victory. This attitude disregards what the world tells us, what the Arabs say to us, and has us doing exactly what we want. We thus ignore international law and build settlements, annex land, and change borders uni-laterally. As long as the US enables Israel to act uni-laterally, this approach continues to dictate Israel’s steps. Only when this approach has stood in actual opposition to American interests, was Israel forced into the bi-lateral mode (tri-lateral, actually, when the US was mediating) and evacuated the Sinai, following the peace treaty with Egypt. The Oslo Accords signaled a turn to the bi-lateral approach, to negotiations with the PLO towards a historical peace treaty between our nations. But whoever noticed what was happening on the ground during the seven Oslo years, realized that in fact the uni-lateral approach did not vanish. On the contrary, during the Oslo years the settlement project was accelerated, creating the illusion that led the international community and most of the Israeli public to believe in an actual peace process taking place between our nations. During the 7 Oslo years, the number of settlers in the West Bank nearly doubled, along with massive land-grab, home demolitions, expulsions and closure on the Occupied Territories. These acts as well as Sharon’s provocative ascent to the Temple Mount to put an end to Clinton’s efforts to further Israel’s negotiations with the PLO (after the fiasco at Camp David), all led to the outbreak of the Intifada.

Today everyone knows that the personal campaign against Arafat, blaming him for initiating the Intifada and sanctioning suicide bombings, was not based on intelligence information, but was rather an attempt to shove the failure of the bi-lateral approach over onto the Palestinian leadership. Even when the Palestinians elected as their president their most moderate leader, the Israeli government pursued its uni-lateral approach, refusing to enter negotiations with the most moderate leadership the Palestinian people had ever had. Instead, it is busy building a separation wall, its uni-lateral attempt to designate the border between Israel and the Palestinians. And when Sharon was pressured to take steps towards peace, he turned to uni-lateral disengagement, refusing to negotiate with the Palestinians. Abu Mazen’s failed efforts to enter negotiations with Israel, and corruption within Palestinian leadership, brought about the Hamas victory.

To the best of my understanding, Hamas leaders assume that they would lose any battle against Israel, but will eventually win the war. It happened in Vietnam, where the Americans kept winning, it happened in Korea and in many national liberations struggles against foreign regimes. Endurance and long-term lack of choice will bring about their triumph.

It is easy to maintain this position as long as the Hamas remains in opposition, and the responsibility for their people’s everyday existence is not in their hands. Now they have achieved power and responsibility for daily existence. This is a historical opportunity in which bi-lateral policy might turn most Hamas leaders into pragmatists and change their position in the conflict. We should also remember that Fatah, too, started out with a total negation of Israel and resisting any compromise. Only the responsibility for daily existence bore the willingness for some very painful compromises with Israel.

The Hamas victory in these elections is the triumph of the uni-lateral approach.

Israeli opponents of compromise and peace have always sought excuses to blame the other side. Now these Israeli talk-refusers have received their Palestinian counterparts. The uni-lateral approach has won, and we can go ahead and shape our borders along the Israeli government’s wishes, but we better realize we’re missing out on a chance for peace yet again, and marching further down the uni-lateral approach slippery slope. We are a mere tiny state almost completely dependent on the US and Europe. Everyone tells us they don’t agree with Israel’s uni-lateral approach, and it won’t be long before that is no longer in their best interests.

Israel’s enormous investments in the settlements are made at the expense of its own development. And when we’ll be forced to leave the Territories we might very well find ourselves in the position of a third world country.

Just as in Israel the Right has an easier time making peace, so the Palestinians, Hamas’ job will be easier, for it won’t have the opposition to peace that Fatah do. Had we first made peace with the Fatah leadership, we could have started the process now of making peace with the entire Palestinian people. This will happen only if Israel abandon its uni-lateral approach and show the Palestinians that they have a partner for peace.