Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Israel's refusal to think about peace

Jimmy Carter is not a man I've considered among the political giants, I'll freely admit to this. I've never thought warm thoughts about him, nor begun to pen a good will sentiment in his honour. Today that all changes.

Well done Jimmy Carter. You've annoyed George Bush, Hillary Clinton and the entirety of Israel's government in one simple goodwill gesture. Nice work Jimbo. Thumbs up!

For those of you who missed it Carter has been demonstrating that if you talk to someone in an honest and open way you can actually get somewhere - in this case with Hamas. Hamas are prepared, we're told, to settle for a two state solution and, if the Israeli's will too, call a ceasefire that can end the current pointless round of bloodshed.

In fact Carter, despite his disappointment at not achieving everything he wanted, seems to have made more progress in one trip than the last three Presidents put together. It's almost like they weren't trying isn't it? Unfortunately it's not all plain sailing. The Israeli government wont talk to him because he seems to think that you have to speak to someone in order to make peace with them. Perhaps they only do peace deals with people they aren't having any trouble with, like the Faroe Islands.

Israel have instead decided to try a different tactic tonight. Increased controls on goods getting into Palestine, that'll bring peace, justice and an end to hatred in no time at all. I can't believe they actually want Hamas to make attacks on Israeli targets, so why wont they they even talk to Carter? Why can't they try to bring the bloodshed and the suffering to an end?

Hamas have made a great leap of faith to even propose what amounts to a reversal of the most central parts of their decades old constitution. Israel wont contemplate even contemplating making progress to peace. I'm imagining an IDF General hiding in a loo somewhere; "Accepting borders? Calling ceasefires? I'm not listening!"

We could have had an historic breakthrough on the cards but perhaps it was just easier to continue the barbaric business as usual instead. Why not call a ceasefire? It ends if the other side breaks it, so if you want to "retaliate" that's fine, what's wrong with taking an opportunity when its offered? Whose worse off if the hostilities cease, even temporarily?


Raphael said...

Did you read the sub-title of the Guardian article:
"Gaza spokesman throws doubt on new hope"

This is what Carter said:
"If President Abbas succeeds in negotiating a final status agreement with Israel, Hamas will accept the decision made by the Palestinian people and their will through a referendum"

This is what Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesperson in Gaza said:
"the idea of a referendum on a peace agreement "does not mean that Hamas is going to accept the result of the referendum"

This is what Mashaal (yes, the one Carter met) said in his own statement:
Mashaal added that Hamas would grant Israel a 10-year "hudna," or truce, as an implicit proof of recognition if Israel withdraws from the land the Palestinians claims.
"We accept a state on the June 4 line with Jerusalem as capital, real sovereignty and full right of return for refugees but without recognizing Israel," Mashaal told reporters, referring to the borders as they stood before the 1967 war.

This is quite important because it means that Hamas has not changed its stance by an inch. It does not want peace but a truce for a few months or years in order to re-arm and continue its fight for the destruction of Israel which still constitute its political and military aim.

Your presentation of the situation is a caricature (Hamas are the good guys, it's all Israel's fault). In reality, there are some limited, positive developments, and they don't come from Carter, but from Egypt. Israel and Hamas are negociating a truce through Egypt and this may come true. There are also signs (not much, but without hope...) of potential positive development between Syria and Israel.

Harry's Place title "Carter's wishful thinking" is quite appropriate:

weggis said...

Is it the Book, or Peace he is promoting?

"I have a piece of paper..."

Jim Jay said...

re the book: that's an old shot I just chose it to illustrate the piece

re referendum: yes that's true that hamas said they'd put it to a referendum - which is actually a pretty legitimate thing to do because it prevents other groups breaking the ceasefire (should there be one) for them.It also deepens the effect of any outcome should the referendum be successful.

Perhaps Israel could hold a referendum amongst its people to see if they want a ceasefire.

Carter was excellent on Newsnight last night but not without notes of caution on what it all means.

I'm happy to say that in this instance Hamas, in their willingness to seek a compromise, are doing a good thing and Israel are doing a bad thing by cutting off even the possibility of talking.

That's not a caricature, nor does it mean that Hamas is always right nor Israel always wrong - although my personal opinion is that Israel have, for some time, pursued a strategy that will lead to more bloodshed and misery and that pressure needs to be put on them to seek more peaceful solutions.

Of course Hamas are not saints in this picture - but it is to their credit that they are willing to go so far at this time.

Raphael said...

To go as far as what?

Contrary to what you claim in your blog, they never said that they would accept a 2-state solution. This, would indeed have been a remarkable achievement, but it is simply not on the table at all.

And regarding the truce, the negotiations are continuing through Egypt. Here is the latest.

What exactly did Carter achieve?

As far as I can see, a letter from Shalit to his parents. Which is great.

Hamas has not moved. They do not recognize Israel. They did not propose a referendum, they said they would accept that one could be held but that they would not accept its result.

Here is more from Abu Zuhri (same interview):
"No poll on the basic rights [of Palestinian people]. Is it possible for us to carry out a poll on al-Quds [Jerusalem] if such an agreement affects our rights in al-Quds?" he asked.

Raphael said...

Hi Jim

It occurred to me that my critical comments above may have worried you. Especially given that, elsewhere, I have denounced antisemitism in the Green Party:

This is to make absolutely clear that although I disagree with you on the interpretation of Carter's visit and Hamas announcements, I do not suggest for one second that what you have written above is offensive.

Best wishes

Jim Jay said...

Well, thanks for thought Raphael, but you needn't worry. I just took it that we disagree on this not that you were denouncing me as an anti-semite.

On the referendum my impression was that they said they *would* accept the result - and that is a big step - although I don't want to imply that what they say they'll do and what they do do are identical, only that the statements they have made are in themselves very positive news, and I'm disappointed that Israel are not willing to at least "call their bluff" if nothing else.

Adrian Windisch said...

Apparently Carter acknowledged that Hamas still refused to recognise explicitly Israel's right to exist, or to renounce violence, or to recognise previous peace agreements.

And Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri immediately cast doubt over Carter's words when he said the idea of a referendum on a peace agreement "does not mean that Hamas is going to accept the result of the referendum"

Within a matter of hours, Hamas’s senior leader in Syria, Khaled Mashaal, convened a news conference to distance himself from Carter’s words. He outlined several conditions including a removal of all Israeli homes from the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and eastern Jerusalem, the full right of return for all Palestinian refugees, a refusal to ever negotiate with Israelis and a refusal to ever recognize the Israeli state.

You said the Israli govt wouldnt talk to him, but he met Shimon Peres, Israel's head of state.

Couldnt the great peacemaker Tony Blair sort this out, or is he too busy with JP Morgan?

Jim Jay said...

Tried to comment last night but blogger was having none of it.

It looks like there are some positive developments re Syria.

I don't think you'll get either Hamas or Israel to renounce violence - the important thing is to both end the attacks on civilians and the economic impoverishment of the Palestinian people.

In the long term "peace", if it can ever come, will have to involve compromise on both sides and, in particular, it will mean giving up instance on demands that are peripheral to an end to the suffering on both sides.

Adrian Windisch said...

I wish the UK and USA would renouce violence as well, but I wont be holding my breath.

I agree peace will need compromise, and I think it will come one day. It came to Ireland when there was the political will to make it happen.