By Shimon Z. Klein 

Trust between Israel and Hamas is non-existent. Israel views Hamas’s tentative attempts at an all-embracing cease-fire as a respite working in their (Hamas’s) favour in order to re-group after the heavy losses they suffered, and carry out another round of terrorism against Israel. They need a period of quiet in order to re-arm and initiate a new cycle of terrorism. Hamas has taken a severe beating from the Israeli security forces and many of their ringleaders in organizing terror have been killed.
 

Despite all this terrorist activity and cycle of violence, whether it is the firing of Qassam rockets into Sderot, and its environment, Israel should accept the cease-fire and at the same time be ready to retaliate if Hamas and Islamic Jihad break the cease-fire when it suits them. The advantages of a cease-fire are obvious for both sides. The biggest advantage, of course, is the saving of innocent lives of both Palestinians and Israelis.
 

We are all aware that the presence of international observers to ensure that the cease-fire is kept by both sides had failed in the past. Perhaps the system of cease-fire monitoring should be reviewed in order to increase its effectiveness in preventing cease-fire violations. The cease-fire should be advantageous to both sides. It should also be bolstered by trust-building measures for serious negotiations for a settlement. If this is done wisely it could open a window of opportunity for Hamas to give de facto recognition to Israel, despite it uncompromising rhetoric against Israel. The mindset of Hamas is adamant and unyielding, and to date, apart from the obvious difficulties that Hamas faces (international boycotts, violence between Hamas and Fatah, the cycle of violence between Hamas and Israel as well as an economy that is non-existent) because of its uncompromising position towards Israel, attainment of some kind of rapprochement with Hamas remains beyond the realm of reality at this stage.
 

While Palestine is still divided into two entities, Gaza and the West Bank, each ruled by Hamas and Fatah respectively, the chances of any realistic peace negotiations for two separate states, Israel and Palestine, would never really get off the ground.
 

Nevertheless, Israel is negotiating with the West Bank leadership under the weak President Mahmoud Abbas. As the situation stands now, the Olmert government has angered the Palestinian representatives by not freezing Jewish settlements in Palestinian lands. They are not keeping to the spirit of Annapolis to which they are committed. If Israel committed itself to peace negotiations and cessation of settlement activity beyond the green line including building new homes then Israel should have kept to its side of the bargain. Instead, the Israel Housing and Construction Ministry is seeking budget approval for 2008 to build  500 apartments in Har Homa, a highly disputed area of East Jerusalem and a further 240 apartments in Ma’ale Adumim, the largest Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Ma’ale Adumim has a population of more than 30 000 Jewish inhabitants. Perhaps Israel’s tactic is such that it will slowly encroach into Palestinian areas by establishing illegal settlements ensuring that a two-state solution will never be attainable.
 

If this trend continues, the two-state solution will cease to be a viable reality. The idea of a one-state solution will gain more support as well as legitimacy. After all, if the Israeli occupation continues to encroach upon Palestinian lands, there will be no room for a separate Palestinian state. The potential Palestinian state will have so many corridors of illegal settlers that it will not be an option. The Palestinian state will be a “never-land” forever unattainable. The right wing faction in the coalition government must be held accountable for the one-state solution. It is just a matter of time unless they come to terms with a total freeze on settlement activity in the occupied lands as well as voluntary withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.

There is no other territory available for a Palestinian state!
 It is obvious from these facts that Israel is deceiving the Palestinian representatives and this could endanger the fragile spirit of Annapolis. How can Israel accuse the Palestinians of breaking agreements while they, themselves, are building more illegal settlements? Surely in order that the spirit of Annapolis is maintained both sides must abide by the understandings reached.
 

It is obvious from these facts that Israel is deceiving the Palestinian representatives and this could endanger the fragile spirit of Annapolis. How can Israel accuse the Palestinians of breaking agreements while they, themselves, are building more illegal settlements? Surely in order that the spirit of Annapolis is maintained both sides must abide by the understandings reached. While Israel is deceiving the Palestinians by enlarging existing settlement by stealth, its behaviour towards its own citizens is hardly any better. The Israeli government is a government of cartels – scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours! Israel has no leaders but a dearth of mediocre, corrupt and selfish politicians who warm their behinds on Knesset seats for their own personal aggrandizement and egos. Their interest in the citizens they claim to represent is directly proportional to their own self interest! Many of these gentlemen enjoy hobnobbing with the wealthy oligarchs from the ex-Soviet Union and other wealthy businessmen who wield the real power. Many of these politicos also have an aura of corruption hanging over their heads like the sword of Damocles. The poor are getting poorer and the middle class is being wiped out. At the same time, the rich are getting richer!
 

At the same time, all is not well on the West Bank, the Israeli Army still carries out abuses against many innocent Palestinians and nobody says a word. It is all whitewashed very effectively by the Israeli Army spokesman. Either there is no comment or else there are the vague promises of an enquiry when soldier abuses are carried out. There have been no removals of humiliating check posts within the occupied territories itself and there are still tremendous difficulties for innocent Palestinians to travel and carry out their daily business. Promises made by Israel to ease the situation for the Palestinians in the West Bank have not been carried out and the situation there remains intolerable. The situation is made difficult for the Palestinians on the West Bank in order to protect the illegal Jewish settlers living there in their palatial homes.
 

There is no doubt, that while Israel has very little credibility – not because of its words but because of its actions, it cannot be held blameless for the hopeless economic situation that is the Palestinians’ lot. The inhuman treatment meted out by the Israeli Army on Palestinians at check posts in need of medical attention as well as the suffering of pregnant women about to give birth does much to increase the hate against Israel. Many Palestinian terrorist groups have mushroomed because of much of Israel’s occupation policies.
 

 

 
  

 

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