The Current Discussion: Vice President Dick Cheney said last week that Hamas is doing all it can to torpedo the Mideast peace process -- but Ephraim Halevy, former head of Mossad, thinks it's time to include the Islamist group in peace talks. Who's right?
The question leads to an obvious answer and a few observations to ponder upon. Is it possible to exclude a political party that won a majority in the last election of Palestinians?
Hamas has duplicated the dual military-political structures in Northern Ireland, namely the IRA & Sinn Fein. It has a noticeable support of the Palestinian electorate that yearn dignity, insist on fairness and stand against modern apartheid. As a grassroots movement of the Palestinian people, it has gained the following of a substantial majority, tired of inactions and corruption of the PLO and Fatah and the precious little built on the Oslo Agreement.
Thus, the comments of Vice President Cheney are about form and the shallow appearance of how peace ought to be from the broker’s perspective. However, Halevy speaks of substance and the stability of long-term results. Put simply, they are talking past each other with dissimilar aims. The vice president of America, the self-nominated peace broker-facilitator-enforcer (but not a neutral one, as presumed by definition....) has fallen short of breath early into substantive negotiations. The aim of Washington is not much higher than a deceptive form, and a hoax legacy, rather than stability and true tranquillity expected with peace. The liberator of Iraq, with depleted political and financial capital and a military engagement longer than World War II, is trying to rough cut a deal and expects all sides to deal away their principles. That will not be a stable and lasting peace.
The contrasting comments of the Israeli Halevy are aimed at substance. Halevy is the former head of the National Security Council of Israel that served five Israeli cabinets and his views could reflect internal debate of a regime that has gained nothing from repeating cycles of violence over the last decade. Such vision must be taken seriously, some 10 years after Mossad’s failed attempt to assassinate Khaled Mashal (the political leader of Hamas), despite the fact that Israel is the land of diverse opinions and complex and opaque politics. A shift towards an inclusive peace process is an encouraging sign in a contentious and drawn out conflict similar to northern Ireland and let us hope is not a mere hollow posture for the next occupant of the White House.
What has changed? Halevy, a British citizen and an architect of the Israeli lobby in Europe, is airing the private conclusions of Tony Blair (the former British prime minister and the appointed point man after the Annapolis meeting for the ineffective Group of Four). Halevy is a long-term supporter of Mr. Blair. Both men have been influential in the shift of British policy to a staunchly pro-Israeli strategy.
Blair naively embarked on the assignment, perhaps as an attempt to mollify his Iraqi endeavours and replicate the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. He soon realised that that the festering, complex problem cannot be solved with cycles of violence, ineffective sanctions or collective punishment schemes akin to dark practices suffered by Jews during the Second World War. With such realisation about the need for talks, Blair and Halevy might have reached the same promising point that eventually settled the Irish problem. In the meanwhile, the American broker is suffering from a riddle of delusions of its own making that are strikingly Middle Eastern -- an insistence to waterboard a self-started peace process, transform a rigid tenacity into blind stubbornness, and then trash talk it all to blame others!
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