by Musa Shihadeh
Ever since Hamas won the democratic election in occupied Palestine for the legislative Council, nations of the world started a campaign to pressure Hamas to recognize Israel as a pre-condition to be allowed to negotiate with Israel. The world community was startled and enormously disappointed to find out that the democratic elections which they have asked for has resulted in the landslide success of Hamas in the Palestinian elections. Confronted with such unexpected "disaster", the Western world could not flagrantly negate these results and had to scurry in all directions to limit the damage that has evolved as a result of the elections. They could not reject the outcome since it was carried out democratically under international inspections and could not go back on their positions since they would scandalously negate the very principle of democracy which they have repeatedly advocated. The only recourse left for them was to conjure an impossible demand, to be extracted from the winning faction, by asking Hamas to recognize Israel before the latter would acquiesce to negotiate with them. Meanwhile they have totally ignored to answer the most important question that precedes such a recognition; which is what Israel does Hamas have to recognize. Is it Israel in accordance with the UN Partition Plan embodied within resolution 181? Or is it Israel within the 1967 borders embodied within UN Resolutions 242 and 338? Or is it Israel under the status quo where the wall and the various settlements obliterate any possibility of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state?
It is of utmost importance to understand here that Hamas, being in control of a Palestinian government, is not in a viable position to engage in some kind of a classical warfare of liberation with Israel because of the latter's military superiority, nor could Hamas negotiate with Israel on an equal footing since it faces a hostile western pressure that would definitely compromise the national aspirations of the Palestinian people. To meet the unfair demands of the Quartet in recognizing Israel and all other agreements that was signed by the PA, Hamas has to alter drastically their political agenda which was approved by the Palestinian people and voted them into power. Hamas does not recognize the miserable Oslo's accords, or the Israeli-American conspiracy labeled; "the road map". A compromise on these issues is tantamount to deceiving the very public that granted them trust and ascension into power. It has been established that voting Hamas into power was not due to its religious ideology as much as its agenda to continue its resistance to the cruel Israeli occupation. Conspicuously then and under the difficult status-quo, Hamas is not in an enviable position to deliberate their responsibilities to their Palestinian constituents. What is more disturbing is the implications in Mr. Mahmud Abbas speech to the new legislative council on Feb.18 that pursuing the peace process in accordance with Oslo and the road map should become a future strategy for the new government. Such position might be acceptable if the Israeli view of peace could meet the minimal needs of the future viable Palestinian state, but we all know that Israel's view of peace as outlined by the Israeli party Kadema insists on dissecting the remaining W. Bank into isolated ghettoes that have no relation with such a state. What position then should Hamas espouse to fulfill their agenda and meet the national demands of the Palestinian people?
With all the weaknesses and the suffering of the Palestinian people notwithstanding, we have to realize also that no peace will ever be established in the region without the Palestinians approval. They hold the strong card that can determine the future of war and peace in the region. From this perspective they should hold on to this very important card under all circumstances and should not easily dump it on the table of negotiations that would compromise their national objectives that also concur with the national aspirations of the Palestinians. Let us not forget that since the early inception of Zionism into Palestine, it has committed itself to the objective of making Israel the safe haven for all the Jews from all over the world, a goal that has failed drastically since violence accompanied Israel since its creation in 1948. It is true that the Palestinians had been suffering ever since, but Israelis also never lived with a needed feeling of security through all the history of the Jewish state. It's no secret then that the majority of the Israelis would favor negotiating with Hamas as the latest polls showed, because by reaching an agreement with Hamas they would not have to worry about the viability of peace since Hamas political agenda comprises the entire political spectrum of the various Palestinian factions. Had Israel arrived to a final agreement with the PA under Mr. Mahmud Abbas, they would still worry about the security that would be still lacking because of the opposition of various other groups such as Hamas, Jihad and Popular Front. With this in mind it should behoove Hamas to hold to their position by not recognizing Israel under all circumstances and pressures practiced by the entire western world until the complete national objectives of the Palestinian people have been actuated.