His Grace has acquired the Guidelines of the Palestinian Unity Government. Here is a translation of the clauses relating to Israel (from the Arabic), which Communicants will doubtless find most interesting. The document
:The political level
1. The government emphasises that the key to regional security and stability is ending the Israeli occupation over Palestinian lands, recognition of the Palestinian right for self determination, and the government will act together with the international community to end the occupation and to return the legal rights of the Palestinian people, so that we could build a strong infrastructure for peace, security and prosperity in the region.
2. The government is committed to protect the supreme national interests of the Palestinian people, to guard its rights and to accomplish its national objectives, as were ratified in national council resolutions, in the national reconciliation document (i.e. the Prisoners document) and in decisions of the Arab summits, and on this basis will respect the "legitimate international resolutions" and agreements signed by the PLO.
3. The government is committed to rejecting a state within provisional borders, since this idea is based on diminishing of the legal rights of the Palestinian people.
4. The government is devoted for the right of return to the Palestinian refugees to their lands and properties.
5. The government will vigorously act for the release of the heroic prisoners from the jails of the Israeli occupation.
6. The government will resist Israel's measures of occupation - assassination, arrests and attacks. The government will view the struggle against Israel's policy in Jerusalem and the holy sites as particularly important.
7. The government will strengthen the relations with Arab and Muslim states, and will develop regional and international cooperation based on mutual respect. The occupation
1. The government emphasises that the regional peace and security are dependent upon ending all forms of occupation of the Palestinian lands, the removal of the racist fence and the settlements, and ceasing making Jerusalem Jewish and the annexation and returning the rights to their owners.
2. The government emphasises that the resistance is a legitimate right of the Palestinian people, and according to all international agreements and conventions it is the right of our people to defend itself against any Israeli attack, and the resistance will only stop after the occupation ends, independence is obtained and the right of return is implemented.
3. The government - through the mutual national reconciliation – will work to set the truce and to expand it towards a comprehensive and mutual truce, in exchange for an Israeli commitment to halt all measures of occupation (including) assassinations, arrests, attacks, house demolitions, land sweeping and the excavations in Jerusalem, and will act for the removal of checkpoints, will open the crossings, will remove the limitations on movement and transportation, and will release prisoners.
4. The government reaffirms the content of the national reconciliation document, that the negotiating authority is given to the PLO and the President of the Palestinian National Authority, and any important agreement will be brought to the approval of the Palestinian National Council, or for a referendum amongst the Palestinians "inside" and "outside".
5. The government will assist the on-going efforts and will strengthen all sides to end the problem of the imprisoned Israeli soldier as part of an honourable prisoner exchange deal.Analysis
1. A thorough examination of the guidelines establishes that in comparison to the "Mecca Agreement" and to the "National Reconciliation Document" ("Prisoner's Document"), there is no moderation on behalf of Hamas, rather, there is a hardening of ideological positions. Other than the issue of the future (conditional) release of the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, which was inserted due to pressure from Abbas, all the other positions agreed upon represent a capitulation on Abbas's behalf to Hamas. Hamas has thus been able to impose its agenda on the Palestinian moderates.
2. The new Palestinian unity government guidelines prove that Hamas has once again advanced towards its medium range goal of positioning itself as the leading movement in the Palestinian struggle, without having to compromise ideologically. This has been attained by agreeing to technical compromises, such as the acceptance of a short term ceasefire (which Hamas anyhow has an interest in maintaining), while on the other hand the hardening of its political positions, including the right to resist all Israeli occupation (Hamas views the term "occupation" as including Israel proper, and not just the West Bank and Gaza Strip), and the continuation of 'the armed struggle' until this goal, as long as the return of refugees to their "property and land" in Israel, is achieved.
3. The emphasis on the "Right of Return" for refugees is Hamas's answer to the Israeli attempt to amend the Saudi peace initiative by removing the clause in it which refers to the right of return (invoking UN General Assembly Resolution 194). If the "Right of Return" remains an integral part of the peace plan, it will be very difficult for Israel to consider the initiative as a basis for future negotiations.
4. Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah are more limited in their future negotiations with Israel or the international community in the future. In Clause 4 of "The Occupation" section, despite the fact that "negotiating authority is given to the PLO and the President of the Palestinian National Authority" (Abbas), which gives the Palestinian government the veneer of international credibility, "any important agreement will be brought to the approval of the Palestinian National Council, or for a referendum". This means that Hamas can veto and block any initiative which does not conform to its ideological outlook.
5. Another limitation on Abbas is the rejection of the option of having a Palestinian state in provisional borders (clause 3, the political section), which prohibits several proposed intermediate solutions, including the Road Map for Peace (which is not even mentioned in the document), and restricts Abbas's negotiating capability.
6. The call for a "period of calm" with Israel, does not represent a moderation of Hamas's position, but instead gives Hamas a tactical 'time-out' in its struggle with Israel which will allow it to strengthen its internal position as well as to build up its military forces.
7. The Palestinians would like the international community to engage with certain government ministers "on a selective basis", in the hope that this would lead to the lifting of international sanctions, even on a partial basis, and without meeting the three Quartet conditions. However, dealing with any minister in the unity government risks granting international legitimacy to this rejectionist administration as a whole - including Hamas.
8. To conclude, in the internal Palestinian sphere, Mahmoud Abbas believes that bringing Hamas further into the Palestinian political system, will allow him to contain their ambitions and actions. However, it would seem that in this particular instance, as part of an attempt to improve the internal security situation and to break the boycott on the Palestinian Authority, Abbas reached a compromise with Hamas's position which allows Hamas to continue on its set course of military build-up as a preparation for the next round of the conflict.
9. Additionally, the Israeli government is committed to the Road Map and the vision of two states - Israel and Palestine - existing side-by-side in peace, and will continue to maintain contact with moderate Palestinians, who will distance themselves from the Hamas government and its ideology.
10. The three conditions issued by the Quartet - recognising Israel, renouncing terrorism and honouring previous agreements - are not mentioned, addressed, or honoured.
11. There is no mention of a two-state solution, or any reference to the 1967 borders. Furthermore, according to Hamas's theological interpretation, all of historic Palestine - Israel, the West Bank and Gaza - is perceived as Islamic religious endowment (Waqf), and therefore using the words "Palestinian lands" [clause 2, political level], is an explicit rejection of the idea of the two-state solution.
12. The rejection of a Palestinian state in provisional borders [clause 3, political level], contradicts the 2nd phase of the Roadmap.
13. The continued support for "resistance" (use of violence), which is the "legitimate right of the Palestinians" [clause 6, political level + clause 2, occupation] should be noted. "Resistance", in Hamas's rhetoric, is nearly always a euphemism for systematic terrorism and violence.
14. It is hypocritical for Hamas to call for the facilitation of the release of Gilad Shalit as part of a prisoner exchange deal [clause 5, occupation], when Hamas kidnapped him in the first place (and took responsibility for it).
Perhaps someone could enlighten Cranmer as to why European Union aid should flow into this ‘Authority’, as many demand, and why this should be done not only without auditing, scrutiny, or accountability, but also without regard for the Peace of Jerusalem.