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Why Should Obama Do Anything for the Peace Process? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the US President “is not doing anything at the present time” to revive the Israeli – Palestinian negotiations for peace, adding that Obama “called for us to resume the peace process…and I hope that he plays a larger role in the future.” Abbas also said that the Palestinians “are waiting for America to put pressure on Israel to respect international law and follow the roadmap for peace.”

The question that must be asked here is why is it up to Obama to do something for the peace process or for the benefit of the Palestinian people when the Palestinians are not doing anything for themselves?

This is the truth, and it is enough to observe what is happening today surrounding the [prisoner-exchange] deal to release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Hamas has confirmed for the second time that it – along with other factions in Gaza – have agreed to halt rocket fire into Israel. In other words Hamas has halted the “resistance” which it pursued in solidarity with Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah, and with which it divided the Arab world into opposition and moderation. It was this so-called resistance that Hamas used [as an excuse] to betray the [Arab] states and leaders. However today Hamas has decided to stop firing rockets [into Israel] in order to facilitate the release of its prisoners; this is in order to gain popularity on the ground in the Gaza Strip and amongst the Palestinian people. Hamas is following in the example of what Hezbollah did following the wars that resulted in 1,200 deaths and 5.2. Billion dollars worth of damage, when they concluded a prisoner exchange [with Israel in 2008] securing the release of Samir Kuntar, along with the bodies of [around 200] captured Palestinian and Lebanese militants.

Hamas is doing this in order to avoid doing what is most important, namely setting the Palestinian house in order. Hamas is preparing for the elections through this prisoner-exchange deal – if the elections do indeed take place – for Hamas is well aware that its popularity is in a constant state of decline, and that the situation in Gaza is going from bad to worse. It is enough to look at the new tough anti-drug laws in the Gaza Strip which confirm that some people in Gaza are turning to drugs as a result of frustration, and this is not to mention the fact that those who were harmed by the Gaza war have not been compensated until now.

This is the case with Hamas, as for the Palestinian Authority, it has tied itself in knots by falling for the [Israeli] trick of the settlements, and has thereby offered Netanyahu a way out from the pressure exerted by Obama on Israel as soon as they tied everything to the settlement issue. Today Abbas says that Obama is not doing anything for peace, at the same time Fatah is entreating Hamas to reconcile, with Fatah Central Committee member Muhammad al-Madani saying “we are asking them to sign [this reconciliation] so that we are able to meet the challenges that we face in order to not accept solutions that do not meet the minimum Palestinian requirements, and which the Israeli right-wing extremist government is trying to impose [upon us] with regards to…accepting the ‘jewish-ness’ of the state [of Israel], their continuing plundering of land for settlement expansion, their judaization of Jerusalem, which will result in the end of a Palestinian presence in our eternal Capital.”

If the Palestinian Authority is unable to reach an agreement with Hamas, a movement that came to power by armed coup, then how can Obama hope to help the Palestinian?

We previously blamed the Egyptians, the Palestinian Authority, and the entire Arab world, including Saudi Arabia, not because they did not keep pace with Hamas, but because they did not stop them. Hamas commits a crime every minute with regards to the Palestinian cause, while the Palestinian cause itself has become the excuse that we give to justify all of our crises.

The most important point that those in the Palestinian Authority have forgotten, whether this is Mahmoud Abbas, Saeb Erekat, or anybody else, is that if you do not help yourself, nobody will.