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Asking Hamas for the moon

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    Asking Hamas for the moon: Severing ties illustrates flawed policy By Arjan El Fassed The Electronic Intifada 31 March 2006
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2006
      Asking Hamas for the moon: Severing ties illustrates flawed policy
      By Arjan El Fassed
      The Electronic Intifada
      31 March 2006

      Canada and the US are the first governments that have
      severed all ties with the Palestinian Authority. Canadian
      Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay and International
      Cooperation Minister Josee Verner announced this week that
      "Canada will have no contact with the members of the Hamas
      cabinet and is suspending assistance to the Palestinian

      At the same time, representatives of the US administration
      sent an email to diplomats and contractors directing them
      to sever contact with Hamas-appointed government
      ministers, and even those who are not members of Hamas.
      The order said that communication is still permitted with
      the office of Mahmoud Abbas and with members of the
      Palestinian Legislative Council who have not been elected
      on the Hamas list.

      Earlier, Israel stated that the PA "will become a
      terrorist authority unless Hamas, which controls the PA,
      fully accepts the threshold conditions as determined by
      Israel and approved by the Quartet." The US administration
      and Canada accordingly want Hamas to denounce violence,
      recognize Israel and accept previous agreements, including
      the Road Map. This move shows again how inconsistent
      foreign policy is towards Palestine and the
      Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

      In mid-February, as the Israeli government announced that
      it would stop reimbursing the customs duty which it
      collects on behalf of the PA, the Israeli Prime Minister's
      Advisor Dov Weisglass was quoted by Israeli media as
      referring to the planned economic siege on the PA as a
      diet, whereby "the Palestinians will get a lot thinner,
      but won't die". Meanwhile, Palestinians face a looming
      humanitarian crisis due to prolonged closures of
      Palestinian territories. This has already resulted in
      shortages of food and other necessities and threatens to
      have a disastrous effect on the 1.3 million Palestinians
      who live in the Gaza Strip.

      On more than one occasion the US administration has failed
      to denounce violence on the part of Israel, vetoed UN
      resolutions on the basis of "balance" and has not demanded
      the same conditions from Israel, while it provides much
      more aid to Israel.

      In 2003, the US funded the Palestinian Authority with $224
      million. By way of comparison, US military grants to
      Israel that same year were $2.1 billion, excluding the
      so-called "emergency wartime supplemental (Iraq)" of $1
      billion. US economic aid to Israel that year consisted of
      $9 billion for approved loan guarantees, $600 million for
      economic grants and $60 million for immigration and
      resettlement assistance.

      With all this leverage, the US never asked Israel to
      recognize Palestine, never asked Israel to denounce
      violence and never ensured that Israel respected signed

      In October 2004, the US vetoed a Security Council
      resolution that demanded the "immediate cessation of all
      military operations in the area of Northern Gaza and the
      withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces from that area"
      and which reiterated "its call for the cessation of
      violence and for respect of and adherence to legal
      obligations, including those under international
      humanitarian law." It called the resolution "lopsided and

      This was not the first US veto of a resolution that called
      on Israel to denounce violence. The Bush administration
      alone has cast seven vetoes. More than once, US
      ambassadors have responded to these vetoes by saying that
      such resolutions would "undermine efforts to restore
      peace" in the Middle East.

      During the military assault on northern Gaza at least 107
      Palestinians were killed and 431 injured. Tank shells and
      helicopter missiles, fired into densely populated areas,
      caused many of the casualties. A quarter of those killed
      were aged 18 years and under. The dead include nine UNRWA
      pupils from six schools and two teachers.

      The US and Canada want Hamas to recognize Israel. This in
      itself is not an easy demand. What would Hamas recognize?
      No Palestinian or Israeli would know where the boundaries
      of Israel are set. The governments that ask Hamas to
      recognize the state of Israel must be specific about
      Israel's boundaries before asking for recognition.

      Over the years, Israel has captured additional territory.
      Does this mean the "Jewish State" as proposed in the UN
      Partition Plan of 1947, or would this mean the ceasefire
      lines of the War of 1967, area C of the Oslo Accords, or
      areas that Israel occupied since September 28, 2000? The
      newly elected Olmert cabinet plans to define Israel's
      borders unilaterally without dealing with the Hamas
      government, so why would Hamas bother to recognize this?

      Apart from boundaries, there is another reason to be
      reluctant. There are at least 20 Israeli laws that
      specifically provide unequal rights and obligations based
      on what the Israelis call nationality, which in Israel is
      defined on the basis of religion. Israelis must carry a
      card that identifies them as a Jew, a Muslim or a

      All non-Jews are second-class citizens. Why would one
      recognize a state that doesn't recognize its own citizens?
      Moreover, over 80 percent of the land within Israel that
      was once owned by Palestinians has been confiscated.
      Unlike any other country in the world, Israel does not
      define itself as a state of its residents, or even a state
      of its citizens; rather, as a state for Jews only. It is
      impossible to recognize that they can travel to Israel,
      declare citizenship, and be granted all the privileges of
      being Jewish that are denied to Palestinians who have
      lived in the area for hundreds of years.

      The US, Canada and the European Union (EU) want Hamas to
      recognize a state that hasn't recognized Palestine as
      such. These countries themselves haven't recognized
      Palestine yet, even though more than 120 other countries
      have recognized Palestine following its proclamation by
      the Palestine National Council meeting in Algiers in
      November 1988.

      In 1988, the UN acknowledged the proclamation of the State
      of Palestine in a General Assembly resolution (43/177). In
      July 1998, the General Assembly adopted a new resolution
      (52/250) conferring upon Palestine additional rights and
      privileges, including the right to participate in the
      general debate held at the start of each session of the
      General Assembly, the right of reply, the right to
      co-sponsor resolutions and the right to raise points of
      order on Palestinian and Middle Eastern issues. By this
      resolution, "seating for Palestine shall be arranged
      immediately after non-member States and before the other

      This resolution was adopted by a vote of 124 in favour, 4
      against (Israel, US, Marshall Islands and Micronesia) and
      10 abstentions. Canada itself was late to recognize
      Israel. Canada abstained when the admission of Israel to
      the UN came to a vote in the Security Council. Canada only
      granted recognition in May 1949, once Israel had been
      admitted to the UN. Palestine is already admitted to the
      UN, but Canada has failed to recognize Palestine. In
      contrast, within minutes after Israel declared its
      independence on May 15, 1948, US President Harry Truman
      granted recognition.

      Israel, the US, the EU and Canada want Hamas to respect
      signed agreements. Yet how can Hamas respect signed
      agreements while Israel hasn't respected any of the
      agreements signed between Israel and the PLO? The Oslo
      agreements did not mention the military occupation and
      postponed, until the final stage, negotiations over core
      issues of the conflict: refugees, settlements, borders and
      Jerusalem. Although many thought that Oslo would lead to
      an end of the occupation and the establishment of an
      independent state, the process itself, and the failure of
      the US and the EU to act as honest brokers, allowed Israel
      to continue land confiscations, house demolitions and
      territorial expansion, leaving Palestinians with little to
      no recourse. Israel continued to build settlements in the
      occupied territories and the number of settlers doubled in
      the West Bank during the years of the 'peace process'.

      The rebirth of the Oslo process in the Middle East
      Quartet-sponsored "Road Map" is not much better. While the
      Road Map calls for "reciprocal steps," attention thus far
      has almost exclusively focused on what measures
      Palestinians take, not what Israel should do. The Oslo
      Agreements expired on May 1999 and the Roadmap expired in

      In a recent report to the UN Human Rights Commission,
      Special Rapporteur John Dugard said Israel had failed to
      adhere to the "road map" plan drawn up three years ago by
      the Quartet. He said the plan is hopelessly out of date
      and needs to be revamped.

      Dugard suggested to the Quartet that it adopt a position
      on the conflict that would take more account of human
      rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory
      and the refusal of Israel to comply with the advisory
      opinion of the International Court of Justice, and that it
      revise the road map in accordance with these
      considerations. Before doing this, it would be a sign of
      wisdom if the governments of Canada, the US and the EU
      become consistent in their policies with respect to Israel
      and leave double standards behind.

      Aid and constructive dialogue are essential because
      starving the Palestinians into submission would be a
      catastrophe. And like it or not, Hamas is the elected
      government of the Palestinians.

      Arjan El Fassed is a co-founder of The Electronic Intifada



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