Tears of blood still to be shed

Ted Lapkin

Herald Sun – 27 February 2006

BY what title do you address someone who dispatches suicide bombers to seek and destroy innocent civilians in cafes, restaurants and commuter buses?

Well, in Gaza, you may as well call him Mr Prime Minister.

The Palestinian people have spoken and their voice at the ballot box has guaranteed the continued flow of blood and tears throughout the Holy Land.

The Hamas jihadists who won a landslide parliamentary election victory have taken power on a platform that is dedicated to kicking out the Jews and bringing in the burqa.

The Hamas leader, the Damascus-based Khalid Mash’al, indicated that his vision of the future had no room for such novel ideas as gender equality or Jewish national self-determination.

And newly elected parliamentarian Yasser Mansour said the movement insisted on imposing Muslim rule “from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) sea”.

A simple glance at the map immediately reveals this geographical euphemism encompasses, not only the Palestinian territories, but also Israel in its entirety.

With these words, the Hamas government demonstrated its allegiance to the organisation’s charter, which declares: “The so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement”.

But none of this should really come as any surprise. After all, spurning opportunities for peace is a long established Palestinian pastime.

It is hard to imagine a better deal for peace than the one offered in 1937 by the British Peel Commission.

Yet, the Arabs refused to accept this plan that would have given them 85 per cent of Palestine.

Why? Because the proposal also encompassed the establishment of a small Jewish state in the remaining 15 per cent of the country.

Ten years later, the Palestinian Arabs brought catastrophe upon their heads by opting for war instead of a 50/50 compromise, triggering Israel’s war of independence.

And in early 2001, an overture by US President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak would have established a viable Palestinian state.

BUT, once again, Yasser Arafat rebuffed what was on offer: national sovereignty throughout 97 per cent ‘of the West Bank and all of Gaza.

Each time the Palestinians have decided to shoot rather than talk has brought about a reduction in the slice of the pie that is offered to them in later negotiations.

It appears that repeatedly trying to annihilate someone isn’t much of an incentive for reciprocal generosity.

Thus the Hamas cruise to victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections should be seen within a historical context of consistent Arab rejectionism.

The Palestinian constitution defines the Palestinian Authority as an ethnic Arab nation, whose “major source of legislation” is’ Islamic sharia law.

So, if Palestinian Arab Muslims can have their own sectarian ethno-religious state, why can’t the Jews have the same?

Yet, that Palestinian state will not be created while an unregenerate terrorist movement is at the parliamentary helm.

Yet there just might be a silver lining in the dark cloud of the Hamas ascendancy.

And when the extent of the disaster they have brought upon themselves finally dawns on the Palestinians, perhaps they will finally realise the path to their redemption lies through conciliation with Israel rather than confrontation.

TED LAPKIN is director of policy analysis at the Australia/lsrael and Jewish Affairs Council