No Peace Until Hamas Rules Gaza We cannot ignore the fact that Hamas refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist

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WASHINGTON – In a recent editorial, (Stop the rockets, but lift the siege, July 20th, 2014), The Economist provides  thoughtful suggestions about how to end the current Israeli invasion of Gaza, while creating the foundations for serious negotiations leading to a final settlement of the perennial conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

What about Hamas?

What I find baffling, however, is that there is nothing in this piece about Hamas radical intransigence, and about its refusal to finally recognize Israel’s right to exist.

I fully appreciate that there are equally intransigent factions within Israel that want to hang on the occupied territories, because they believe that the whole of Palestine is part of the Promised Land.

Israeli fundamentalists are a real obstacle to serious negotiations, that is negotiations aimed at reaching a final, equitable and sustainable peace agreement.

Israeli intransigence is the problem

Still, to say, as The Economist does, that the only obstacle to peace “stems fundamentally from the refusal of Israel to negotiate in good faith to let the Palestinians have a proper state encompassing both Gaza and the West bank” is a huge misrepresentation of reality.

While it is proper to question Israel’s good faith and real intentions, I see nothing in this analysis and list of recommendations about the role of Hamas. The Economist says only that, in order to move forward towards peace, “Hamas must promise not to fire its rockets into Israel”. That’s it?

Stop launching rockets

Let me say that this is a ridiculously low bar. Based on this, if Hamas, for the time being, stops launching rockets –as opposed to a solemn, public pledge to give up all terror attacks and all violence, especially violence aimed at Israeli civilians, while recognizing Israel’s right to exist–  the organization is immediately recognized as a legitimate political entity that should be fully engaged in future negotiations?

And why does Hamas have all these rockets? And why did Hamas use its limited financial resources to construct a vast network of tunnels reaching into Israel? And –most fundamentally– is it a good idea to negotiate with a counterpart that is unwilling to recognize Israel’s right to exist?

Not to mention the destructive role played by outside parties in the rest of the Arab world, eager and willing to fund and supply Hamas knowing full well how their aid will be used.

Silence on Hamas betrays an anti-Israel bias

These are well-known issues. But, according to The Economist, they do not play any role. Just get Hamas to promise that it will stop attacking Israel, (for how long? A month? A year?), and all will be well.

This silence on Hamas’ intransigence, stemming as we all know from deeply rooted ideological biases, is completely disingenuous, betraying an anti-Israel bias.

This old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is difficult enough. There will be no meaningful steps towards its resolution if we purposely ignore the actual role played by key actors.

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