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Hamas and Fatah Reach Deal Over Prisoner’s Peace Plan

Haaretz reports a deal between Hamas and Fatah, whereby the former would for the first time accept the basic terms of the Prisoner’s Document which implies recognition of Israel and a halt to resistance against the Occupation within the Green Line. Among other things, this would entail a cessation of Qassam attacks against southern Israel. Hamas would concede significant political territory to Fatah also in recognizing the PLO, led by Mahmoud Abbas as the sole entity to negotiate a peace deal with Israel. Hamas also agreed to recognize agreements entered into by Fatah that “serve the interests of the Palestinian people.” The question is whether Hamas views the agreement in question, the Oslo Accords, as serving the interests of the Palestinians. If not, then one could say we’re back to square one since Oslo provided for PLO recognition of Israel among other things.

There is one important element of the Prisoner’s Document left unresolved. It calls for a Hamas-Fatah national unity government. Fatah wants to establish one immediately; and Hamas calls for a “non-binding text” that would not compel it to form such a government.

Interesting that neither the NY Times nor the Washington Post has deemed this story worth covering. Though the Times does today carry a tragic and compelling story about the IDF murder of British documentary filmmakeer James Miller in Gaza in 2003. Yet another example of an IDF “investigation” which whitewashed IDF malfeasance and led to no justice for Miller’s killer, First Lt. Hib al-Heib. After his murder, Miller’s colleagues completed the documentary, Death in Gaza, which was shown on HBO and won several documentary film awards.

Haaretz also reports that Ehud Olmert, during his international dog and pony show to tout his realignment/convergence plan, believes that several European governments promised that they would not dismantle the international boycott of the Hamas-led PA if the Prisoner’s Document was ratified:

The main concern the document aroused in Israel was that European countries would view it as Palestinian acceptance, albeit indirect, of the Quartet’s demands to recognize Israel and past agreements with it, and use it as an excuse to talk to Hamas and resume aid to the Palestinian Authority.

On visits to Britain and France two weeks ago, Olmert was reassured this would not happen.

A senior political source ventured yesterday that the international community would not pressure Israel to accept the document as the basis for negotiations…

Personally, I believe Olmert is quite daft if he believes these governments would make such a promise. But I wasn’t there and so don’t know what was said to him.

Again, I believe that if Abbas and Fatah prevail upon Hamas to create a national unity government there would be very little standing in the way of international recognition of the PA and a relaxation of the financial stranglehold in which Palestine currently finds itself. Olmert, of course, will be screaming and kicking against such an outcome because it will mean pressure will increase exponentially on him to enter into final status negotiations with Abbas. And the former knows that during final status negotiations with the entire world watching, Israel will feel pressured to give up far more than he currently contemplates giving up under his unilateral plan. This is why he hates the Prisoner’s Document so. Actually, he calls it an irrelevance in studied nonchalance. But hardly anyone is fooled by a pose which even Madonna might admire.

Of course, one may question how serious Hamas is about ceasing resistance against the Israeli Occupation on a day when its military wing boasted of a coordinated attack on an IDF outpost along the Gaza-Egypt border (NOT within the Green Line) which killed two Israeli soldiers and three militants. UPDATE: Haaretz in this article said, until a few minutes ago that the Israeli outpost WAS on Israeli soil thus making the attack a violation of the terms of the Prisoner’s Document. But now the article says:

The gunmen attacked an IDF post near Kerem Shalom just outside the border fence with southern Gaza

Whether the outpost was inside or outside the Green Line, the Hamas military wing’s timing couldn’t have been more incendiary–perhaps indicating a wish to derail a softening of Hamas’ political positions vis a vis the Prisoner’s Document.

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