Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hamas Offers Peace; Israel Keeps Head in Sand

Hamas deputy leader Musa Abu Marzouk stated to The Daily Telegraph:

Israel owns the West Bank and Gaza Strip right now but if it withdrew from these and let the Palestinians have access to Jerusalem, we would turn our face to rebuild our lives and live alongside as in other parts of the world

This offer from Hamas gives Israelis interested in peace exactly what they want. For Israelis interested in expansion, of course, it is the worst news possible; the last thing they want is a moderate Hamas willing to live in peace with an Israel contained within its legal 1967 borders.

Whether or not this might be or remain official Hamas policy is not the issue. Hamas has made the offer. If Israel spurns it, that will only show Israel's true intentions. In January 2006, Israel had a chance for peace but preferred an economic war against democratically-elected Hamas. In the summer of 2008, Israel agreed on a ceasefire with Hamas and had another chance for peace but chose to renege on its commitment to moderate substantially its economic embargo of Gaza. Now Israel has a third chance.

"Israel," of course, is a simple word for a complex political environment, which, especially now, is utterly incapable of rational, coherent behavior. The neo-Nazi extremists and the merely rightwing extremists and the various groupings of confused and disorganized moderates have checkmated each other like a five-way tug of war on a greased floor. What do you do when you see a friend in psychological distress repeatedly cutting off his own nose to spite his face?

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