Trump and Israel dabble in Hamas and PLO quicksand

August 9, 2018 by David Singer
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President Trump‘s attempt to see a five-year Gaza ceasefire negotiated between Hamas and Israel seems to be an exercise in futility destined to failure…writes David Singer.

America’s involvement first surfaced on 7 July when “an unnamed senior Trump administration official” stated:

 “We definitely have a Gaza focus right now because the situation is the way it is, and we want to try to help. But it’s not as though we think we need to fix Gaza first before we would air the peace plan.”

If it sounds like a cop-out and looks like a cop-out – it is a cop-out.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) had made it very clear months ago it would have nothing to do with Trump’s yet to-be-released peace plan – no matter when it is aired.

Arab States supportive of Trump’s plan were wavering.

Leaving those small technicalities aside – any negotiations between Israel and Hamas over Gaza would be anathema to the PLO – which has been engaged in an internecine struggle with Hamas to govern Gaza since 2007.

Indeed Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasmeh has already reportedly said the number one priority should be achieving Palestinian unity on the basis of previous agreements signed between Hamas and Fatah – and not a truce with Israel in return for humanitarian aid.

Trump’s “ultimate deal” was initially foreshadowed back in 2016 – before Trump was even sworn in as President:

“I believe that my administration can play a significant role in helping the parties to achieve a just, lasting peace – which must be negotiated between the parties themselves, and not imposed on them by others. Israel and the Jewish people deserve no less” 

Trump did not then define who he meant by “the parties”.

Given the developments in the Middle East generally since 2016 – and in Gaza and the West Bank specifically – both Hamas and the PLO seem to have disqualified themselves from possibly participating in negotiating Trump’s peace plan. This leaves the way open for Jordan and Egypt – the last two Arab States to occupy the West Bank and Gaza respectively between 1948 and 1967 – to fill the empty Hamas and PLO chairs at the negotiating table with Israel.

Trump’s new Gaza approach is conditioned upon the following observation made by his three negotiating emissaries – Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman – in their op-ed article in the Washington Post on 20 July:

“For far too long, Gaza has lurched from crisis to crisis, sustained by emergency appeals and one-time caravans of aid, without dealing with the root cause: Hamas leadership is holding the Palestinians of Gaza captive. This problem must be recognized and resolved or we will witness yet another disastrous cycle.”

Hamas is not going to suddenly disappear or allow free and fair elections in Gaza to determine who shall govern Gaza’s population. Any reconciliation by Hamas with the PLO seems most unlikely to occur.

Israel appears to be going along with this Gaza trial balloon being floated by Trump.

Realistically however – ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas will be fatuous unless the following provision in the 1988 Hamas Covenantis shredded:

“The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. …

Trump needs to persuade previously-supportive but now wavering-Arab States to back his peace plan being released without delay.

For Trump to contemplate being dragged into the Hamas and PLO quicksand that has claimed so many sincerely-intentioned do-gooders preceding him is incomprehensible.

David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network

Author’s note: The cartoon – commissioned exclusively for this article—is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators –  whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog

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