Update – 10 December 2012

Posted by Emily Gian on 10 December 2012 at 4:04pm:

Much has been written in recent weeks about the Palestinian bid for non-member observer status at the United Nations. The resolution was finally passed 138-9 with 41 abstentions. Australia was one of the nations which abstained. The final result was predictable enough given the number of Arab and Muslim nations and those that are beholden to them, particularly those reliant on oil and other economic factors.

One of the major issues with Mahmoud Abbas taking his bid to the United Nations was that of territory and control. Article 1 of 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States declares “the state as a person of international law should the following qualifications: a) a permanent population; b) a defined territory; c) government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states”. The Palestinian Authority has neither a defined territory nor a permanent population, and more specifically, does not exercise any control at all in the Gaza Strip. While the Palestinian Authority controls the West Bank, Hamas took over Gaza during a bloody coup in 2007.

Israel’s main objection to the UN bid was that the Palestinians were using this to avoid their obligations under the Oslo Accords, especially their commitment to the achievement of a return to peace talks at the negotiating table. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that “Israel is prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian state, but for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected. The Palestinians must recognise the Jewish state and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all… … The only way to achieve peace is through agreements that are reached by the parties directly” (see more).

I felt at the time that rather than focus on “yes” votes or “no” votes, what was going to be really important was what would happen in the days after the resolution itself was passed. In reality, the only nation that would really need to deal with any of its outcomes would be Israel. Less than two weeks later, it would appear that we have a clearer understanding of the matter of what Israel is really dealing with.

Over the weekend, Hamas’s politburo chief Khaled Meshaal, who had never set foot in Gaza, arrived via the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Gaza ahead of Hamas’s 25th anniversary celebrations. While I do not have a copy of his itinerary, I can only speculate that he would be staying in one of Gaza’s hotels.

After kissing the ground upon entering, he appeared at a rally where hundreds of thousands of Hamas supporters gathered to commemorate the anniversary and to celebrate Hamas’s “victory” over Israel last month during Operation Pillar of Defence.

Speaking to a sea of green Hamas flags, Meshaal revealed a number of interesting points that make it difficult to believe that in this current climate, a peaceful two-state solution, whereby a Jewish State and a Palestinian State would live side-by-side, is possible.

Back in early November, speaking to Israeli Channel 2 television, Palestinian Authority President declared that the “West Bank and Gaza is Palestine and other parts (are) Israel” (see more). Hamas and Meshaal seem to have a very different idea with Meshaal declaring that “Palestine is ours from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea and from the south to the north… There will be no concession on an inch of the land” (see more).  

Meshaal also commented that “Today is Gaza. Tomorrow will be Ramallah and after that Jerusalem, then Haifa and Jaffa” (see more). For those who might have thought Hamas may recognise Israel’s legitimacy he made this point very clear declaring, “we will never recognise the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take” (see more).

In terms of Jerusalem, he made it very clear that “we will free Jerusalem inch by inch, stone by stone” and that “the right of return is sacred to us and we will not forfeit it” (see more).

In case anyone still believes that Meshaal wanted to solve these issues by peaceful means he defiantly declared, “Jihad and armed resistance are the right and real way to liberate Palestine and restore our rights… Liberating Palestine, all of Palestine, is the duty and right and goal of all Arabs and Muslims” (see more).

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh backed this up when he stated that Hamas “has thousands of combatants, on and under the ground, who are ready to ward off any Israeli aggression. The occupation will not remain on this land” (see more).

While some people might make the argument that this is Hamas and not Fatah, there are a few things I would like to point out.

The first is that Fatah never issues any sort condemnation of these celebrations in Gaza, just as they did not condemn the firing of rockets on Israeli civilian populations. On the contrary, Fatah officials accepted an official invitation to join in the festivities and sent a delegation over to Gaza for the first time since Hamas’s takeover in 2007.

The second issue is the issue of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, which has been discussed for some time now but until now, no agreement has been reached. But during his speech, Meshaal declared “Palestine is too big for a single movement … Palestine is for all of us, we are partners in this nation. Hamas cannot do without Fatah or Fatah without Hamas, or any movement.” Azzam al-Ahmed, who is head of Fatah’s central committee, said that Fatah “strongly welcomes the speech of Khaled Meshaal, which was very positive on the issue of Palestinian division … The speech was positive on the issue of one president for the Palestinian people, and one authority and one law, and we do not disagree with him at all on these issues, which are the focus of the reconciliation agreement that was signed by Fatah and Hamas and the other factions to end the division” (see more).

In the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Yesterday we were re-exposed to our enemies’ true face. They have no intention of compromising with us; they want to destroy the state. They will fail, of course; in the annals of the history of our people, we – the Jewish people – have overcome such enemies (see more).

Based on Meshaal’s speech, and the endorsement from Fatah, it is difficult to see what happens from here. At a meeting for the Arab League in Doha yesterday PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said that he would call for six months of negotiations with Israel and he would demand that Israel put a freeze on all settlement construction at that time (see more). But after his unilateral bid at the United Nations and the Hamas celebrations, it is hard to see this as anything more than another tactic to delay any real moves on the ground for peace.

One interesting thing that has come out of Hamas’s celebrations over the past few weeks is their constant trumpeting of the M-75 rockets, which were fired towards Tel Aviv and Hamas’s holy city of Jerusalem during Operation Pillar of Defence. When the ceasefire was called, Hamas’s twitter account published this picture of their celebratory cake, featuring the M-75 rocket. Looks delicious, right? (The French phrase “Let them eat cake” keeps repeating itself in the back of my mind!)

The same rocket was celebrated up on stage during Meshaal’s visit. Now, a cosmetic company is helping out those struggling to find a suitable Christmas/Chanukah present with their latest fragrance, the “M-75” perfume. According to the owner of the company, “the fragrance is pleasant and attractive, like the missiles of the Palestinian resistance, and especially the M-75”. It was created “to remind citizens of the victory wherever they may be, even in China” (see more).

As night follows day, little of the above can be found in our media.

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