A Just Peace

Ismail Haniyeh, the new Palestinian Prime Minister and a Hamas leader, discusses the demand on Hamas to recognise Israel in today’s Guardian.

The US and EU have been calling for Hamas to disarm and recognise the state of Israel, or lose foreign aide, since Hamas was elected in the Palestinian elections in January. However, Haniyeh notes that no demands have been made of the Israeli government to recognise Palestinian rights in the lead-up to the Israeli elections:

‘But we have not heard a single demand of the Israeli parties that took part in this week’s elections, though some advocate the complete removal of the Palestinians from their lands. Even Ehud Olmert’s Kadima party, whose Likud forebears frustrated every effort by the PLO to negotiate a peace settlement, campaigned on a programme that defies UN security council resolutions. His unilateralism is a violation of international law. Nevertheless no one, not even the Quartet – whose proposals for a settlement he continues to disregard, as his predecessor Ariel Sharon did – has dared ask anything of him.’

Let me make clear that it is not a justification of terrorism to acknowledge that there are indeed double standards at work. As long as both the Israeli government and the Palestinian government keep waiting for the other to recognise the other and cease all acts of violence, no progress will be made — everything will carry on spiralling downwards as before. One does not have to agree with Hamas to acknowledge this.

‘This is a good time for peace-making – if the world wants peace.’

Peace that does not recognise the basic rights of Israelis and Palestinians is not a just peace, and as such is not viable. We have seen over the last several decades that demanding recognition of the state of Israel and Hamas’s unilateral disarmament, without incentive for Hamas to comply, is not effective. We have seen that terrorist attacks and demands that Israel stop the occupation, without guarantee of security is not effective.

So the next step? Try something different.

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