If there is one thing the Israelis and Palestinians can agree on, it’s their ability to disagree. Seemingly within hours of each other Netanyahu announced that he will seek a two-week extension on forming a coalition and Fatah and Hamas announced the breakdown of their own unity talks.
First the Palestinians.
A member of the PLO told The Jerusalem Post that the major issues that led to the breakdown were how much of a role Hamas would play in a unity government and whether the terror group would recognize past agreements with Israel – thus acknowledging the Jewish state’s existence. Hamas still refuses to cede these issues.
In Israel, Kadima has repeatedly scorned Netanyahu’s attempts to pull it into a unity government. Meanwhile, he signed an agreement with Israel Beitanu leader Avigdor Lieberman but has had some trouble closing deals with Shas and other right-wing parties. He is still trying to pull Labor into the government, despite resistance from major players in the Labor party who have threatened to bolt if party leader Ehud Barak joins the government.
So where does this leave the Middle East peace process? In effective stalemate. Both sides are paralyzed and the status quo will continue with Hamas attacking from Gaza and Israel trying to restore deterrence. Both sides are ignoring what is best for their respective populations. The people of Gaza will never attain freedom as long as Hamas remains the government. Hamas needs to realize that if it truly cares about the people – which all evidence indicates that it does not – then it needs to compromise in order to make their live better.
As for Bibi, we all know he really wanted to be prime minister again. And he has the potential to be a good prime minister but he has to decide once and for all where he stands. Is he the darling of the right wing? Or is he the center-right candidate closer to Kadima than to Shas?
In one positive turn of events, Israel swept through the West Bank yesterday and arrested several top Hamas leaders. Hamas accused Israel of “immoral, Zionist blackmail,” as they came to the same conclusion the rest of us did: Israel will use these new prisoners as leverage in negotiations for Gilad Shalit.
For Hamas to accuse Israel of blackmail is absolutely laughable. Hamas launches an illegal cross-boarder raid, kills two soldiers, and kidnaps a third in order to then swap him for hundreds of terrorists. Of course, when Hamas does it, it’s not blackmail. It’s “for the cause.”