As for Hamas and its potential reconciliation with Fatah–a deal-breaker regarding any peace agreement–Shaath remains equally obstinate. Last May, he said that Hamas should not be asked to recognize Israel. “Many others agree with us that the old rules of the quartet were not logical, and are not workable,” Shaath said. “They have no place” in the current formula anymore. “Stop asking Hamas,” he added. During the same interview with Israel Radio, Hamas deputy foreign minister in Gaza, Razi Hamed, claimed Hamas wants peace, but that “the occupation is the root of all [the Palestinians'] problems.” He contended that peace can only be realized by a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, and the ability of all Palestinian refugees to “return to their homes” in Israel.
Despite this non-starter, an effort was made by Shaath as recently as last Sunday to continue reconciliation efforts with Hamas. He contends that Hamas is “moderating its positions” due to the weakening of the Syrian government that has long supported the terrorist organization. He went so far as to label Khaled Mashaal, leader of Hamas’s military wing, the “dove in Hamas.”
Thus, despite all the rhetoric about the peace process, it remains clear that the only “peace” the Palestinians are interested in is one that completely excludes Israel’s existence and/or its ability to defend itself. Despite this, a meeting was held yesterday between Palestinian and Israeli peace negotiators for the first time in more than a year. True to form, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to take “harsh” measures against Israel if they didn’t meet his conditions for resuming negotiations, even as Hamas called on Abbas to cancel the meeting. In Gaza, Hamas leader Ismail al-Ashqar warned that if talks continue, they would “totally blow up the Palestinian reconciliation.”
As for Shaath, he remains duplicitous. Speaking with Wolf Blitzer on September 21st, he contended that Palestinians are “subject to occupation, and we want it to end in order to be in peace with Israel, as neighbors, two states side by side.” This completely contradicts what he said during the interview on Lebanon TV earlier in the year. Why the difference? In the former interview he was speaking in Arabic, the latter, English. Former colleague and PLO head Yasser Arafat was a master of such double-speak.
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