Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will lead the new unity government of technocrats following a unity agreement by Fatah and Hamas, announced on Feb. 6. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu reacted, saying Abbas and the Palestinians must choose between peace with Hamas or peace with Israel.
Netanyahu points to the 1988 Hamas Charter, which does not recognize Israel and says things like ”our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious” and calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic state in Palestine, in place of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel.
However, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal indicated to Robert Pastor, senior adviser to the Carter Center, that the Charter is “a piece of history and no longer relevant, but cannot be changed for internal reasons.” Hamas do not use the Charter on their website and prefer to use their election manifesto to put forth their agenda.
In March 2006, Hamas released its official legislative program. As a United States Institute of Peace report said, “the program’s most significant element was Hamas’s acknowledgment that the “issue of recognizing [Israel] does not concern a single Palestinian faction alone, nor any government alone, but it is the decision of the Palestinian people, wherever found” (page 13). This was a major shift away from their 1988 charter.
Hamas has been responsible for countless suicide bombings and rockets from Gaza into Israel in the past.
Less well known is the charter of the Likud Party, PM Netanyahu’s party. It is a later document, written in 1999, that says:
On Settlements: “The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting….”
On a Palestinian state: “The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel’s existence, security and national needs.”
On Jerusalem: “Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem, including the plan to divide the city presented to the Knesset by the Arab factions and supported by many members of Labor and Meretz.” chance for future peace negotiations because east Jerusalem as capital of a future Palestinian state is non-negotiable for any Palestinian.
However, the party has agreed to the idea of a Palestinian state.
In terms of “partners for peace,” both sides have documents and behaviors in their past which indicate that neither party has willingness to share their space. Far better than old documents and past behaviors, we must look at behaviors and facts on the ground now to determine the best course of action that will result in a just peace.