Thoughts on my recent Jerusalem Post op-ed
I just published my newest op-ed in The Jerusalem Post entitled “The Enemy Israel and Hamas Once Shared.” (It is now located in the Premium Zone, which requires a modest subscription.)
In the piece, I discussed how Hamas and Israel, specifically Prime Minister Netanyahu, have long shared the same enemy: Palestinian unity.
The Israeli conservative leadership class has, the past three years, leaned heavily on Palestinian disunity, on disunity between Gaza and the West Bank. Why? Israel has known that without a working relationship or shared governance between Hamas and the PA, there was no chance for any brokered peace deals to have practical application or force. And so Netanyahu has been able to comfortably invest little in dialogue with the Palestinians, content to root for continued Palestinian disunity (and even enhance it when possible).
Hamas, for its part since kicking the PA out of Gaza in 2007, has also not been interested in Palestinian unity, for reconciliation and a unity government would mean relinquishing full control over Gaza. And so, for a time, Hamas and Israel were strangely aligned, happy to trade violent barrages with each other, each knowing that such violence helped to further the Palestinian disunity that already existed.
And then the Arab Spring occurred, with Gazans clamoring — like their Egyptian neighbors — for a fully representative government, for unity between the West Bank and Gaza. For a time, Hamas tried to distract its populace by shelling Israel, hoping the Israeli reprisals would once again galvanize anger against Israel (taking away from the popular protests for unity with the PA).
However, the violence, this time, didn’t work – the violent distractions backfired. Which is why today a historic reconciliation agreement was signed between Hamas and the PA.
And so Israel remains in the cold, the only entity to be rooting against Palestinian unity. Netanyahu is publicly posturing, offering that as long as the PA wants unity with Hamas, it cannot have unity with Israel.
But most observers understand that this is an untenable position, particularly with September (and the promise of the UN General Assembly granting the Palestinians statehood) fast approaching.
And so the question is this: will Netanyahu change his tactics, and share Hamas’s move toward accepting Palestinian unity as inevitable, as necessary? Or will he continue to be stubborn, refusing to deal with the Palestinians?
My guess is that, after much show, it will be the former. At least, I hope this will be the case. For the latter will be too difficult a situation for Israel to diplomatically bear.