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Egyptian brokered “truce” undermines peace and strengthens Hamas
By Ray Hanania — Many assert that the recent Egyptian-brokered “truce” between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip might open the door to a new peace initiative, but just the opposite can be expected. The truce actually undermines peace, undermines the secular Palestinian leadership in the West Bank that is steadily losing ground to the religious extremists, and only sets up Israel for more violence. Aside from the fact that Hamas will never be a partner to any true peace process, the “truce” also has a negative effect that will further discourage future peaceful negotiations.Instead of allowing Egypt to broker the peace, it should have been negotiated through Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. By excluding Abbas, the “truce” sends a clear signal that Hamas is in control.
Although Hamas really achieved nothing substantive except a brief reprieve, it did achieve a major public relations coup, reinforcing the notion among the increasingly despondent Palestinian masses that religious fanaticism rather than reasoned secular strategy will achieve their goals of a Palestinian state.
The “truce” also weakens Abbas and the Fatah-led government in the West Bank among their own supporters who while opposing the rising religious fanaticism, believe they have to step up their militant and violent response to Israel just to stay competitive with the Islamicist movement.
For nearly three years, the people of Gaza Strip have lived under an oppressive economic stranglehold and military siege and Israeli military assaults and rocket attacks that have taken hundreds of lives.
During the same period in nearby Sdereot and other cities, Israelis have been besieged by constant Kassam rocket fire that has taken far fewer civilian lives but that has imposed a state of fear.
Both sides have been far from the freedom they had each hoped would come when Israel voluntary evacuated its settlers and military forces in August 2005.
Egypt brokered a “truce” that took effect on Thursday June 19, intended as a first step towards improving the situation for both sides. But that’s not what the truce will achieve.
The “truce” is a shortterm recipe for future disaster
What Palestinians and Israelis really need is not a “truce” but rather a peace agreement based on a genuine, long-term strategy to disarm militant groups and kick-start a Palestinian-wide economic revival.
The truce is set up for failure. While Hamas is incapable of embracing any compromise with Israel – extremist religious doctrine demands total submission to faith, not reality — Israel’s government is incapable of delivering true concessions.
Palestinian chatter in the media and society is already predicting that the truce will not result in long term tranquillity, but rather an even more brutal and fierce military confrontation. They, naturally blame Israel and not themselves.
Israel, they assert, reluctantly agreed to the truce in order to secure the release of their captured soldier, Gilad Shalit, and also as an excuse to later re-enter the Gaza Strip in another massive reoccupation to wipe out the leadership of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Israel’s corruption besieged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had no other choice but to sign the “truce,” hoping to secure Gilad Shalit’s release while easing the situation for Israelis near the Gaza Strip, many of whom evacuated their homes months ago to escape the rocket attacks.
The “truce” is really a formula for disaster for both sides.
What could have been done?
Israel should partner with the secular Palestinian leadership to separate the people of the Gaza Strip from the oppression and suffering that has wedded them to Hamas’ violent but failed strategies.
Any future agreements with Hamas should be brokered not through Egypt but through Abbas.
Olmert and Abbas should also outline both a strategy for economic revival, but a real roadmap that defines a vision for what a Palestinian State will look like down the road.
And, when Hamas returns to firing Kassam rockets across the Gaza border, an inevitability that everyone expects, Israel needs to change its past policies.
Instead of punishing the Palestinian population with gun-slinging military reprisals that take more civilian lives than kills or captures alleged terrorists, Israel needs to act more like a law-abiding government that places the well-being of innocent civilians even above the need for justice.
Genuine peace cannot afford Israelis and Palestinians making the same mistakes that reinforce the hand of religious fanatics not just in the Gaza Strip but in the West Bank, too.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and author, and managing editor of the Arab American Writers Group,
www.ArabWritersGroup.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.)
This post has already been read 79 times!
Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
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