Yisrael Harel
Bitterlemons (Opinion)
February 15, 2012 - 1:00am

I don't know what developments the Doha declaration will generate at the internal Palestinian level. It certainly won't produce peace between Israel and the Palestinians. When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared that Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) "chose Hamas over peace" this was a correct yet trivial statement.

Abu Mazen's act of adopting the Hamas refusalist strategy toward Israel did not begin last week when he embraced Hamas politburo head Khaled Meshaal in Doha. He has actually long adhered to this strategy--but unlike Meshaal, cleverly and "gracefully". When it comes to Israel, Meshaal at least speaks his mind. "Moderates" like Abu Mazen say one thing but think another. In statements intended for western and Israeli public opinion, he exudes the desire for peace. But when decisiveness is called for, the real objective emerges--the struggle to eliminate the Jewish-Zionist state--and there is no real difference between the two leaders and their organizations.

Abu Mazen has proven in recent years that he doesn't need Hamas in order to avoid all contact with Israel and refuse to accept every peace proposal it has made. Countless such proposals have been presented by nearly every Israeli prime minister. Abbas' choice is to flee from peace. If you like, the Doha declaration merely adds a visual, ceremonial imprimatur.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed in 2008 to near-total Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories. He was prepared to forego most of Jerusalem, including Jewish holy places, and compensate the Palestinians for the so-called "settlement blocs" with territory inside sovereign Israel. But Abu Mazen fled. He disappeared.

Most Israeli experts who deal with the Palestinians and the Arab world have adopted the concept, which over time some have turned into a political philosophy, that Fateh and its leader Abu Mazen have truly changed and genuinely seek peace with Israel. (Before Abu Mazen came Arafat, which really proves how badly the experts' political philosophy has distorted their judgment.) If peace does not materialize, it is Israel with its refusal to withdraw from the occupied territories that bears primary responsibility; after all, haven't the Palestinians declared their allegiance to peace? It is the remnants of this approach that we are hearing in the experts' analysis of the latest development in Doha and particularly their criticism of Netanyahu for hastening to condemn the Doha declaration.

But even if the experts are hard put to free themselves of their political philosophy--however quietly they now speak of it--most of the Israeli public apparently has. This is a slow process, not a sudden let-down. One of the symptoms is the public's low level of interest, bordering on indifference, regarding the "dramatic" Doha agreement.

Arabs argue that Jews don't understand their mentality and that this is yet another reason why peace evades us. True, and not true. Most Jews indeed do not and apparently never will understand how Abu Mazen can embrace Khaled Meshaal, the man responsible for the cold-blooded murder of hundreds of Fateh activists in Gaza. This didn't happen somewhere back in the middle of the last century, with memories of the event gradually fading. It was only a short while ago that we watched on our TV and computer screens how Hamas threw Fateh activists from roofs of high buildings in Gaza, while reports flowed in of murder by torture in Gaza prisons. Then there were the cruel vengeance attacks by Abu Mazen's people against Hamas activists in the West Bank. And now? Smiles and embraces. Are we liable to be accused of prejudice if we note that we will probably witness totally reversed displays sometime in the near future?

(Incidentally, I don't understand our own mentality in this respect either: Jews are now groveling to Germans and crawling on all fours to Berlin. Berlin! The German capital is now a favorite city for Israelis to live in, particularly youth who worship "freedom and progress".).

So it required a certain mindset to agree to sign the Doha understandings. And thanks to the same mindset, those understandings will probably last, as the Yiddish joke goes, from the Fast of Esther until Purim, which occurs the very next day and is the ultimate Jewish holiday of mirth, when everyone dons a costume and is permitted to get drunk.

For Israelis, the lesson is simple: even if you have an agreement with the Palestinians, there is no chance it will last. The proof is the suicide bombings and related atrocities that shed so much Israeli blood. They commenced before the ink had even dried on Arafat's signature to the Oslo agreements.


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