Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Israel, Ireland

What Norm misses here is that the question is not really whether Hamas (or the new Palestinian Authority cabinet) should recognise the "right to exist" of the Israeli state, or whether the Israeli government should "recognise" Hamas or the Hamas-led cabinet. Indeed the Guardian, contrary to what Norm says, makes no call for Israel to "recognise" anybody - but rather to end the boycott of Hamas.

In other words it's a matter of whether explicit recognition of Israel's right to exist should be made a precondition, rather than an outcome, or indeed an implication, of negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian representatives. Obviously there are all sorts of things both sides would like to have the other side unconditonally agree to, but I would suggest that that's an argument for, not against, negotiations; and that refusing to negotiate until those things that are important to you are guarenteed by the other side is a formula for not having negotiations.

Which might be the point of course.

I would also point out that the IRA (or Sinn Fein) didn't, strictly speaking, negotiate with the British government but with the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and that SF/the IRA did indeed seek the abolition of the Northern Irish state (i.e. it's integration with the Republic of Ireland). More to the point, unionist leaders in Northern Ireland (whose position can be seen as analogous with that of the Israeli government, since it was essentially "their" state whose existence was challenged) also entered into negotiations with Sinn Fein.

And, indeed, both negotiated with the government of the Republic of Ireland, whose constitution claimed sovereignty over Northern Ireland.

And it was only at the end of the process of negotiation, with the endorsement, in 1998, of the Good Friday Agreement by Sinn Fein and the government of the Republic, that SF officially "recognised" Northern Ireland (whose police force it has only just agreed to support) and that the Republic changed its constitution.

I suggest that had the British government refused to enter negotiations until these steps were taken, we'd still be waiting for the "peace process" to start. It is foolish or worse to make recognition of Israel a precondition of talks with Palestinian representatives.

Confused indeed. The Charter of Hamas sets forth its anti-Semetic religious beliefs, its desire to kill Jews, and its commitment to distroy Israel. What makes you think that Hamas, would ever recognize Israel?

What makes you think that Israelis are such great fools as to trust these anti-Semetic fanatics?

What makes you think that the analogy between the IRA and Hamas is even slightly valid?
I don't expect Israeli's to "trust" Hamas any more than I expect Palestinians to "trust" Olmert or Peretz.

I think that Hamas is subject to political realities like everybody else. As such it is more likely that it's positions will change than that they will stay the same. Relevant political realities for Hamas include Palestinian public opinion, international pressure and Israeli military superiority.

Back in its day the IRA seemed pretty intransigent you know. What do you make of the Hamas ceasefire?
Hamas is not founded in political sanity. The Nazis were prepaired to destroy Germany rather than face reality. Hamas is an Arab movement, not Irish. Hamas allegedly had a cease fire with Israel last year, they launched rockets aginst Israel almost every day, an supported Islamic Jihad in its suicide attacks aginst Israel. If there was a long term cease fire, Hamas would continue its attacks aginst Israel. Have you ever read the Charter of Hamas? What do you think of it? Did you read the speeches of Hamas leaders during the Palestinian election last year? You ought to look carefully at Hamas in the context of Arab Civilization before you offer advice about how to deal with them. Hamas is not Irish, and it certainly is not the IRA.
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