A truly mind-boggling thing has just happened within Palestinian society. Hamas has unequivocally accepted that Israel has a right to exist within 1967 borders.
Hamas has distributed a document in which the organization, for the first time in its existence, unequivocally recognizes the 1967 borders and adopts the main principle guiding Fatah: the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
[The Hamas document] also includes an article calling for improving relations with the world in general and the West in particular, "on a moral basis and political principles that will preserve the rights of our people and guarantee an end to the aggression." (see Hamas recognizes 1967 borders for first time)
This will cut the legs out from under the Israeli rejectionists who claim that the Palestinian militant organizations can never be transformed into purely political entities (and therefore Israel is justified in its war to the finish against Palestinian militants).
What I find equally amazing about this development is that it was preceded by what must’ve been an excruciatingly difficult meeting between Abu Mazen and Hamas’ top three leaders: "At the two-hour meeting, Palestinian sources said they saw Abbas tell Hamas leaders that he intends to deploy the Palestinian security services to prevent all military activity by all the organizations throughout Gaza and he demanded a commitment from them to cease all their military activity." If he is indeed serious in his commitment to prevent militant attacks against Israel (and I understand how tentative and fragile such a commitment might be), then we have indeed turned a huge page in the conflict.
One fellow here named Colin has engaged me in a long, but interesting colloquy about Israeli-Arab relations in the comments section of this post. This comment of his epitomizes the above argument: "It is false to believe that Hamas or Islamic Jihad are fighting against "the occupation". The occupation that they are fighting against is that of Tel Aviv, of Netanya, of Eilat." Got news for you Colin, Hamas has just proven you dead wrong.
Now, am I saying that this statement from Hamas means that their new position is set in stone and will never revert back to something like what it was before? No. But do I believe that this is an enormous step in the right direction and deserving of a major Israeli act of conciliation (which of course will not be forthcoming)? You bet.
UPDATE: A commenter at Semitism.net has pointed me to a cautionary post by Helena Cobban on this very article from Haaretz. She claims not to find the clear recognition of 1967 borders in the Hamas statement which Regular finds. Since the material from the document which he quotes only calls for a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and doesn’t explicitly mention Israel at all by name, I’m afraid I have to agree with her view of this matter. Still, the Hamas statement is a positive one and we can sit back and wait for further clarification on its meaning.
don’t want to get into a big discussion, but just thought that I’d point out that I have not been proven “dead wrong”. At the moment, Hamas are sworn to Israel’s destruction. Hopefully, they will change this position. You are correct in saying that this announcement is a positive step towards this, but your update shows that Hamas has still not recognised Israel’s right to exist.