Sunday, January 29, 2006

"All they want is their land back"

The big election win by Hamas in Palestine has caused a lot of naval gazing and comments by the punditocracy trying to decipher or explain what it means. Patrick Lang gives us his interpretation. The Palestinians just want their land back.

Not just Gaza and all of the West Bank. They want all of it. All of Palestine. All the way to the water's edge at the Mediterranean.

"We will continue to fight against the occupation..." Hamas speaker in Gaza.

Occupation---- Interesting word. The sweet in nature and soft of head have heard that kind of language a lot from Palestinians (and generally heard in it what they wished). "All we want is our land back.." It took me some time to understand that what is really meant is all of Palestine, all of it, maybe a piece now, a sliver later. Maybe it will take more generations of struggle and death. "I will struggle and live in misery and pain, but my grandson will live free in his own land." I have heard that many times, from Muslims, from Palestinian Christians.

The "occupied" have a certain right to be deceptive and disingenuous in pursuit of what they see as FREEDOM.

The Palestinians know they can't eliminate Israel by conventional war, so they are involved in an extremely sophisticated political process. Terrorist actions keep the pot boiling, political actions gain the ground. Add to this a regular increase in population in the occupied Palestine territories and Gaza. That racks up the pressure on the Israelis and those who support them.

The one thing that will lose the battle to regain all their land is to accept an agreement that there will be two states, side-by-side. That will close off further gains through political actions. But negotiations towards such an agreement set the conditions within which they can continue to get more concessions. There needs to be an illusion that progress is possible and is being made.

Arafat refused to accept a "final" agreement when it was offered to him. This closed down the illusion of progress, and resulted in the West refusing to negotiate with him further. So Hamas escalated the terrorism. The Palestinians made no more progress in their long term goal until Arafat died, changing the situation. But the long term appearance of progress in negotiations remained. So Fatah also had to go.

The election of Hamas to replace Fatah in the Palestinian Parliament means that the previous negotiations are dead. All progress is gone. Reset to "Go."

Except that "Go" will start from a point of all concessions already made to the Palestinians. The most recent concessions will be the new starting position from which future negotiations will be worked out.

But don't worry. Hamas can be dealt with. They'll negotiate.

All they want is their land back.

[See earlier article Hamas win - only ignorant Americans are surprised.]

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