This morning (Sunday), on what Palestinians call Yawm an-Nakbah (the Day of the Catastrophe), Hamas’ Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is reported to have addressed some 10,000 worshippers in a Gaza mosque and to have declared that they were protesting “with the great hope of bringing the Zionist enterprise in Palestine to an end.”
Haniyeh’s remarks should come as no surprise given the clause in the Hamas Charter that states that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”
It is in that context that the recent accord between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas should be viewed. A united Palestinian leadership that expresses such views is not the kind of government with which Israel can be expected to do business.
The Middle East quartet was, therefore, absolutely right in insisting back in June 2009 that all Palestinians commit themselves to non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations.
However, those essential pre-conditions for a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians would now appear to be less emphatic. Only last month, in a press conference with the Arab media, quartet envoy Tony Blair is reported to have stated that they would work with a Palestinian unity government if Hamas would renounce violence. Despite being asked twice by reporters, Blair apparently did not insist that they recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Against that background, a United Nations declaration recognizing a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and on the West Bank including East Jerusalem would effectively give a stamp of approval to the establishment of a nation of which a major component of its political leadership has no intention of living in peace with Israel.
While that would no doubt be welcomed by Iran, Syria and a host of other countries, it is to be hoped that western democracies, headed by the United States, will resist all efforts to recognize a nation state committed to Israel’s destruction.