Lately a new wind of pragmatism is blowing from Gaza. In a CBS interview Ismail Haniyeh, PM designate of the future Hamas government is “hopeful that a peace agreement can be reached” and noted that “Palestinians are not bloodthirsty and they wish to stop the bloodshed”.
As promising as that might sound I suggest we curb our enthusiasm take Haniyeh’s willingness to make peace as nothing more than words.
Haniyeh is a long standing member of Hamas, an organization committed to the violent destruction of Israel. This is reflected in their charter, their emblem, their public statements and their thousands of victims none of which ever caused Haniyeh to display any discomfort. Is anybody expected to ignore that?
We have seen Palestinian leaders display themselves as pragmatic before.
Arafat and the PLO, through the entire peace process, spoke of peace in English and of war in Arabic. While making sure to condemn every suicide bombing when giving interviews about compromise and peace to western networks, Arafat repeatedly called for Jihad in Arabic. He used the state controlled media to incite his public, commit messages of war and terror, glorify suicide bombers and rule out any claim Israel has over it’s land. From honestreporting:
“Arafat had told an Arab audience in Stockholm in 1996, ‘We plan to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion… We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem.’ Likewise, Arafat explained to a South African crowd in 1994 that the Oslo agreement was merely a tactical ruse in the larger battle to destroy the Jewish state ― a modern version of the Muslim prophet Mohammed’s trickery against the ancient tribe of Quraysh. Arafat’s colleague Faisal al-Husseini was even more explicit, describing the Oslo process as a ‘Trojan Horse’ designed to promote the strategic goal of ‘Palestine from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea’ ― that is, a Palestine in place of Israel”
In fact, this should not have come as much of a surprise. In 1974 the PNC (Palestinian National Council) passed the “Phased Plan” resolution. The plan’s basics were to establish an independent Palestinian territory from which further attacks could be launched. The ultimate goal (paragraph 8 of the resolution) was to provoke an all out war with Arab nations that would result in the eradication of the Jewish state.
Arafat, speaking shortly after signing the Oslo Accords said the agreement: “…will be a basis for an independent Palestinian state in accordance with the Palestine National Council resolution issued in 1974″
Today Hamas is following a similar tactic. Haniyeh, the pragmatic face of Hamas, talks of peace in English, while Mashal and other Hamas leaders, in Arabic, talk of humiliating Israel before it dies and liberating Jerusalem, Jaffo, Haifa and all of Palestine. Ironically, this can be viewed as the ultimate pragmatic apprach. A practical way of defeating Israel.
Western and Israeli leaders couldn’t resist Arafat’s public statements for peace and decided to brush away all warnings, even give him the Nobel Prize for peace, in hope that government would convert the PLO. The results were 7 years in which Arafat would build a terror state that, when put to use in September 2000, caused Israel thousands of deaths, economic decline and international isolation. Israel has learned the lesson the hard way. Has the world?