Hamas accepts Saudi peace plan:
April 30, 2002 9:16 PM   Subscribe

Hamas accepts Saudi peace plan:
"There has been generation after generation (of war). Now there is a generation who needs to live in peace, and not worry about their safety," said [Hamas executive Ismail Abu] Shanab. "So it is a generation that wants to practice living in peace and postpone historical issues. We speak of historical Palestine, and practical reality."
Since their official position is that "Leaving the circle of conflict with Israel is a major act of treason" (Hamas Charter, Article 32), this is a dramatic change in policy indeed. I'm gobsmacked; this is utterly unbelievable, yet apparently real. And genuinely hopeful IMHO. What do you think?
posted by boaz (16 comments total)
What I think is that this is a potential opening that Ariel Sharon will do his best to close.

Any peace plan that results in an Israel without massive numbers of fundamentalist Jews controlling all of the Occupied Territories is something a person like Sharon will never accept.

Since you asked.
posted by mediareport at 9:24 PM on April 30, 2002

I disagree.

If the plan is a generally reasonable one (i.e., no right of return) I think Sharon will have to accept it. Pressure from the world community and his own citizens will become too great to do otherwise.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 9:51 PM on April 30, 2002

Too late.
posted by homunculus at 10:01 PM on April 30, 2002

I want to believe that Hamas will change its policy. I really want to believe that. But for now, I'll wait and see what happens. My Spidey sense doesn't like this, somehow.
posted by swerve at 10:01 PM on April 30, 2002

Pretty unusual for the Chronicle to have a scoop no other papers print.
posted by semmi at 10:10 PM on April 30, 2002

Media report.

I unfortunately agree.

If this is true - it is refreshing to see someone take the high road - especially hardliners like hamas.
posted by specialk420 at 10:27 PM on April 30, 2002

"Pressure from the world community"???

Puh-lease. If there's one thing that Sharon has clearly demonstrated since his ascension to leader of the heroic state of Israel, it's that he doesn't give a fuck about what "the world community" thinks.
posted by mediareport at 10:49 PM on April 30, 2002

If this is real... (no mention on CNN, BBC, New York Times, ArabNews, Yahoo News (AP/Reuters), Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz or even Debka)

It will be interesting to see how the US deals with it, Hamas has been on the State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations for years.

There has been speculation throughout the past 18 months that Hamas was moving to usurp Arafat and move themselves into a position to assume political leadership whenever thing settle down again.

The deal-breaker is probably right there in the first paragraph "Hamas... is willing to stop attacks on Israel if it returns to pre-1967 borders". I think it's fair to say without exaggeration that means "we'll keep killing you unless you leave first." I really doubt Israel will do anything, nor should they, until attacks on Israeli Jews are stopped.

Additionally, Israel has the upper hand and is in the position to be making demands, not acquiescing to them. From Abu Shanab's comments, the Israeli offensive seems to have worked. I wonder if this was Hamas' pre-planned "phase 2" or is this a sign that Hamas feels immediately threatened?

Hamas should condemn suicide bombings. Otherwise suicide attacks will have been validated as a political tool. (not just children, though having to even point that out makes me sick)

A few months ago I met Stanley Cohen, Hamas' lawyer. I took some hope from the fact that Hamas was being represented by an American Jew. However had I known then what I know now, I would have asked him completely different questions.

Maybe some good will come of this.
posted by joemaller at 11:43 PM on April 30, 2002

Hamas has made statements in the past (unable to locate online) regarding accepting the 1967 borders. However as soon as these statements are made, a Hamas leader is usually assassinated in due course (not that there is a connection to the statement and the assassination, just that any leader of Hamas is in IDF crosshairs), and revenge attacks ensue.

Furthermore, before the first intifada Hamas was a peaceful movement and even had covert funding channeled from the Israelis, who saw Hamas as a counterpart to the secular PLO, and wanted to make divisions in Palestinian society. The story goes that the Hamas leader witnessed so much degredation at the hands of the IDF during the first intifada that he decided peace was impossible with Zionists.

I am not saying there could not be a change in policy, as Hamas as a mature movement would probably eventually move to a PLO-like position to establish a state within the 1967 borders. However it's important to remember that Hamas started the suicide bombing campaign precisely to foil the Oslo peace accords in the mid-90s. As a relatively new movement, drastic changes are possible, but somewhat unlikely.

However I salute in the strongest possible terms Boaz's enthusiasm. As an intelligent, honest proponent for the Israeli cause, I salute his openmindedness and genuine desire for peace. he is proof that it is possible to be Pro-Israel and not bound by immutable ideology.
posted by chaz at 11:48 PM on April 30, 2002

mediareport: Any peace plan that results in an Israel without massive numbers of fundamentalist Jews controlling all of the Occupied Territories is something a person like Sharon will never accept.

Hamas is generally considered (at least in America) to be a terrorist organization. They have done and sanctioned absolutely horrible things. And yet here they are coming to the table, potentially willing to compromise... If you believe that, why is it so ludicrous to believe Sharon might actually do something similarly reasonable and respectable? Dismissing the thought out of hand doesn't accomplish anything.

While a lot of what Shanab says sounds great, some of the details do not. In previous attempts at peace, the Palestinians were willing to allow Israel to control certain parts of the West Bank. The current offer from Hamas doesn't include that, making it unlikely that Israel will accept (all based on how I understand the last part of the article). Should Sharon be demonized for not accepting an offer of peace that is worse for Israel than what has been offered in the past? To me, it seems backhanded to be self-righteous and claim the moral highground when your adversary rejects an offer you knew from the outset they would never accept.
posted by jewishbuddha at 12:42 AM on May 1, 2002

Read with some care what is said about the Right of Return. Years ago Arafat had stated that the Palestinians could swamp Israel with their huge difference in Arab births and that they would then essentially eliminate the Jewish state without the need for warfare. Here, Hamas clearly is saying that the Right of Return remains a goal, something the Saudi plan also made clear.
Since Hamas and Hezbollah are seemingly beyond Arafat's control,then why not have leaders of all three groups meet and make a pronuncement on exactly what they have in mind, with specifics? That would clear the air for cynics like me.
posted by Postroad at 1:04 AM on May 1, 2002

why is it so ludicrous to believe Sharon might actually do something similarly reasonable and respectable?
Because he has vast military superiority and apparently is thinking of a more permanent solution. I do hope however that a more reasonable government may soon replace him (and send him to the Hague to be tried for war crimes).
I hope it's a change of policy though. I still marvel at the fact that no major Palestinian group has tried the passive resisence path, since it is so obvious that it would be the only way to create an alliance with the Israeli left and force a real political solution. Although, to be fair, passive resistance has to: a. be covered by the media in order to be effective and, b. be able to withstand clandestine Mossad actions that would subsequently be blamed on the Palestinians.
Postroad: The right of return issue could be resolved very simply by an official Israeli apology and a decent (not extravagant) recompensation of affected families, that could be easily provided by Israel and the UN. That would be acceptable, I think, to most major Palestinian resistance organizations- it's realistic and saves face.
Think about the above in the context of a solution that would include denouncement of violence against civilians, an apology for all the civilian Israeli casualties by Arafat, the implementation of a UN sponsored international police force and judiciary in the Palestinian state for a period of, say, 10 years, the Saudi peace plan, draconian laws against violent extremists on both sides, a truth and rehabilitation commision as in South Africa and the removal of those settlers from the W. Bank that will not accept Palestinian sovereignty over their settlements.
Now, can anyone offer me a position in the negotiating tables?
posted by talos at 3:10 AM on May 1, 2002

Talos: I have no quarrel with what you say. Israel has long maintained that they would allow some of the original Palestinians back in and would compensate those who could show they had left but chose not to return. After all, there were some 650-700 thousand people who left and now there are over 3 million Palestinians. And of course if there is to be a Palestinian state then there is no need for most Palestinians to have homes in two states, right? (and we are not even talking about compensation for the 700 thousand Jews forced out of Arab lands whenIsrael declared a state.). It really merely means a token gesture, as you say, and then get on with a better life for all concerned.
posted by Postroad at 4:37 AM on May 1, 2002

Simple peace plan: Pre-1967 borders, 2 independent states, common-market style trade & travel agreements, universal recognition of both nations, settlements abandoned, limited right of return, limited compensation, words of apology and reconciliation.

How to make it work: Bush tells Sharon, very quietly, that this is IT, and that the US arms pipeline will be shut if he doesn't accept.

Why it won't work: Bush wants to invade Iraq, which means he can't realistically squeeze off the arms and aid to Israel, so he has zero clout and Sharon can do whatever he wants (as he has demonstrated in his slow withdrawal).
posted by beagle at 6:05 AM on May 1, 2002

beagle: As I understand it, Israel has quite sophisticated arms of its own making that the US is interested in.
But back to the original posting, it's a day later and there is still no sign in any other source of what the Chronicle reports.
posted by semmi at 12:12 PM on May 1, 2002

semmi, since the interview was with a Chronicle reporter, that's not too surprising; this has trial balloon written all over it. Why he went for a second-tier paper is beyond me; maybe he had lost Friedman's cell phone number.

One thing that seems obvious to me is that Sharon (or any future PM) can't deal with Hamas without completely undermining his negotiations with Arafat, since the PLO and Hamas are competing organizations. My main hope is that this signals that Hamas will not be attempting to undermine future peace accords with Arafat.

As for whether Hamas can change, I'd say it's quite possible; Hamas has always been 90% a social-services organization (schools, mosques, clinics, etc.) and 10% a military organization. They'd still have plenty of a raison d'etre without their military wing.

Sure, this is all speculation at this stage, but it's still nice to see them stepping back from an ideology that pretty much guaranteed them near-eternal warfare.
posted by boaz at 7:05 AM on May 2, 2002

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