Ari Shavit
Haaretz (Opinion)
December 17, 2009 - 1:00am

The cat is out of the bag: Palestine, all of Palestine. Standing before 100,000 people in the center of Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh this week declared the objective of the Hamas movement. The moderate prime minister of the moderate faction of the Palestinian religious movement publicly announced the peace solution for which his government is aiming.

The ultimate solution is not the total liberation of the Gaza Strip or a Palestinian state. It is the liberation of all of Palestine.

Haniyeh did not say so outright, but his words are clear. Hamas is demanding Ramle and Lod, Haifa and Jaffa, Abu Kabir and Sheikh Munis. It is also demanding the land on which this article was written and the land on which this article was printed - the land on which the editorial offices of Haaretz are located and the land on which the Haaretz printing plant is located. The land, the entire land. Greater Palestine.

In recent years, quite a number of experts have promised us that Hamas does not really mean it. Hamas is only playing tough, but its intentions are lofty: cease-fire, Green Line, coexistence. Live and let live. But no message conveyed by any senior Hamas member to any diplomat behind closed doors is equal in status to the message conveyed by Haniyeh to the masses. What counts is only the direct and open statement made by the Palestinian leader to his people. Palestine, all of Palestine. Every piece of Israeli land on which any Israeli citizen lives. His home, your home, our home. The land beneath our feet.

Ostensibly, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is an alternative to Hamas. Two days ago Abbas told Haaretz correspondent Avi Issacharoff that an agreement could be reached within six months. There's one small problem: Similar things were said to us when the Beilin-Abbas agreement was formulated in 1995. Similar things were said to us on the eve of Camp David 2000. Similar things were promised us when the Geneva Initiative was signed in 2003. Similar things were promised us when Israel went to Annapolis in 2007.

But every time an Israeli leader took another significant step toward Abbas, Abbas became evasive. To this day Abbas has not responded positively to the offer of 100 percent made to him by former prime minister Ehud Olmert 15 months ago.

We can understand why Abbas is suspicious of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. But it's impossible to understand why Abbas has once again evaded Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin, or why the Palestinian "peace leader" has never signed a draft peace deal or offered a peace compromise.

Minister Benny Begin says the reason is that, in its own way, Fatah is also a Greater Palestine movement. Others say the reason is that since Abbas is a refugee from Safed, he will never give up the right of return. Some argue that Abbas wants to but cannot, and others believe he can but doesn't want to.

Whatever the case, Mahmoud Abbas seems to be presenting a mirage of peace. He has been talking about two states for the past 21 years, without being willing to pay the price the Palestinians must pay in order to implement the two-state solution.

The truth is harsh. The occupation is destroying Israel. It is undermining Israel's ethical, democratic and diplomatic foundations. But both Hamas and Fatah are making it very difficult to end the occupation. With Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip, arming itself to the teeth and enjoying the support of about one-third of the Palestinians, it has the right to veto any diplomatic progress. With Fatah unwilling to recognize the Jewish nation-state and objecting to a demilitarized Palestinian state, there is no chance for a peace treaty.

Haniyeh and Abbas are pushing Israel into a trap, each in his own way. Only naifs believe that additional negotiations over a final-status agreement will extricate Israel from the trap. But the alternative to a final-status agreement is not a continuation of the status quo. The alternative is an Israeli initiative. MK Shaul Mofaz's plan is one possibility; a second disengagement is another.

Whatever the case, Israel must deal with the existential threat of the occupation on its own. Time is running out, and the writing is on the wall. "Palestine," the wall is blaring, "all of Palestine."


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