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Meshaal’s Concessions from Damascus - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It does not take much intelligence to understand the justifications given by the hawk of the Palestinian Hamas movement, Khaled Meshaal concerning his acceptance of a Palestinian state according to the 1967 borders, relinquishing all of Palestine and acknowledging the existence of Israel. The observer will not fail to notice that his announcement was made in the Umayyad capital of Damascus, the city that could not bear to hear anything that he had to say or listen to him in a previous conference that was arranged to take place on its territory.

The shocking question is: what made Meshaal transform suddenly into a Saeb Erakat or a Mahmoud Abbas hastening towards the road to peace when he previously stated that he would rather encounter death?

We are witnessing two new potential situations, one of which is enough to realize this change in stance. The first is the Israeli claim that Damascus expressed its wish to begin negotiations. The truth is that it had previously expressed the same intention in the late 1990s, however it soon went quiet. If that was the case, Syria did not do so alone, especially as it lost Lebanese support since the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon. We are now witnessing a formation that is made up of Palestine and Syria that comes after the end of the famous rivalry between the two parties during the life of the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. The other potential situation is that Hamas realizes that it is on the verge of losing power in Palestine unless it corrects its path by pragmatically dealing with reality that it rejected in the past. Hamas is aware that there is no significance to this movement and struggle if it does not take the lead and that it will lose its position at the front if it were ousted by popular demand or driven out by the order of Mahmoud Abbas. In such a case, it will shift from an isolated government to a pursued government that claims its stolen legitimacy like many previous governments in the region. We are fully aware of the rule of governance in our region, that people back legitimacy until it falls.

I am confident that the two situations are correct, that is Damascus’s change from a confrontational stance to one of negotiation and Hamas’ understanding of the rules just when it is about to lose power.

As I have written before, Syrian negotiation is justified after many years of confrontation on its part. In addition, Hamas’ leadership of the Palestinian state project in the West Bank and Gaza is necessary on the Palestinian level and then on the regional level. We know that nobody can accuse fundamentalists of treason and debauchery of which they accuse others. Fatah had negotiated, the people participated and no party will outdo Hamas.

It was apparent that when Meshaal gathered the media representatives to make his announcement, he wanted to achieve a condition by being open and clear in order to satisfy the prerequisites of any serious negotiations. Here, we say to Hamas, and to Syria, what they know already: The most difficult thing for a person to do is to announce his abandonment of previous stances, however, their justifications are convincing and everybody can understand that war aims for peace. Nobody will denounce the stances of Syria or Hamas, in fact the majority of people in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan, the countries that have been afflicted by tragedies, will support such stances, as they know that Syria and Hamas represent absolute rejection and that those who reject them will find no one else to turn to.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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