By Tarek Fatah
April 30th, 2014
A rare opportunity for peace in the Middle East appeared this month, but like a fleeting lunar eclipse, quickly vanished.
On April 23, the two warring factions of the Palestinians - Fatah and Hamas - made peace, agreeing to form a national government and giving President Mahmoud Abbas the mandate to negotiate with Israel.
The reaction from Israel was disappointing. Instead of waiting to see how the agreement between the two former enemies would unfold, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shot it down.
"So instead of moving into peace with Israel, he (Abbas) is moving into peace with Hamas," Netanyahu said. "He has to choose. Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel? You can have one but not the other."
While it's true Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization, the fact remains without Hamas and Fatah coming together, there can never be a Palestinian state and thus no comprehensive peace treaty with Israel recognizing it as a Jewish state.
That Hamas agreed to recognize Abbas as the legitimate president of the Palestinian Authority was progress, but Netanyahu chose to see the glass as half empty.
Two years ago, the conflict between Hamas and Fatah was so bitter, I wrote, "Palestine is dead - prepare for a three-state solution." My pessimism was based on the tragic Palestinian-on-Palestinian killings that took place in 2007 as Hamas gunmen butchered Fatah fighters, throwing wounded men from the roof of a 15-storey building to their deaths.
On Nov. 12, 2007 Hamas gunmen fired on a Fatah rally inside a Gaza stadium held to commemorate the late Yasser Arafat. Many were killed.
The story of the Palestinians is one of immense sadness and tragedy.
Denied their legitimate statehood as a sovereign country, they live under Israeli administration, itself a legacy of wars lost by Arab armies hell-bent on wiping the Jewish state off the map and driving the Jews into the sea.
Few people in the developing world have suffered such a long wait for freedom.
While Israel has a lot to answer for, the pain endured by the Palestinians is often self-inflicted by a corrupt leadership, incapable of forming a broad-based national movement with realistic goals.
This is why Netanyahu's decision to curtail more talks with the Palestinians is so problematic. It weakens those who seek peace and strengthens the people he rightfully scorns as Jew-hating terrorists.
One prominent Canadian Palestinian, Jehad Al-Iweiwi, summed up the predicament of his people:
"The Palestinians again are responsible for the lack of peace? It's so tragic for us, and laughable at the same time. I give it to the Israelis for their brilliant spinning. They have both of their feet on our necks and constantly complain about our reflex. The world knows this. They can't do anything about it. Our utterly corrupt and incompetent (Palestinian) leadership is making this possible just as much as the occupation."
The pessimism in Israel was reflected in the words of Marc Leibovitz, who wrote in The Algemeiner:
"Let's be honest with ourselves, the Two-State Solution isn't going to happen. Several alternative proposals are being discussed and promoted. Although the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations is uncertain, we must pursue alternative solutions."
Those "alternative solutions" are what US Secretary of State John Kerry was warning against when he put his foot into his mouth by uttering the "apartheid" word in connection with Israel.