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Will We Miss this Opportunity Too? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Palestinian Authority [PA] excelled when, led by Mahmoud Abbas, it welcomed the proposal of President George Bush to hold an international conference on peace in the Middle East, unlike Hamas that was quick to reject it.

The question that is raised now is will the opportunity to declare a Palestinian state be seized, even if only in the West Bank? Seeing as Hamas has decided to isolate itself in Gaza, it lies in the hands of the moderates of the Arab world, along with the PA, to facilitate this initiative and to move towards establishing a Palestinian state.

Hamas, typically, is accusing the PA of treachery. Its rhetoric, however, is outdated and dishonest. Meanwhile, Syria, that is harboring the real leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, recently announced that it is ready to hold talks with Israel. By “ready”, we do not know if this means that these talks will be held on earth as requested by President Bashar al Assad, or on the clouds, or by way of a “reliable” and perhaps even “divine” third party. It does not matter. When Syria says it’s ready, it’s ready.

Iran is negotiating with the Americans in Iraq, and if given the chance, would probably hold talks with them in Zurich too. Hamas, however, is an ideological waste that eats away at everything. When its spokesperson stated that this conference is nothing more than “meaningless lies,” adding that “Bush’s promise to establish a Palestinian state is old and will not be implemented, and is only brought up every once in a while to trick Palestinian public opinion,” Hamas was distorting known facts. Everyone knows that Bush is the first American president to adopt the project of a Palestinian state. Or is Hamas, like the Muslim Brotherhood before it, not concerned about the founding of a state, even if it is Palestine, and instead more interested in the concept of the Ummah, [Muslim nation]?

Hamas’ speech and the belief of other analysts of evil that the American president would not have made this proposal were it not for his dilemma in Iraq, and that therefore it would not be wise to accept it as he is on his way out of the White House anyway, only prolongs occupation and suffering.

Many people around us have spoken about resolving the region’s key issues, particularly that of Palestine. Even terrorist sympathizers have repeatedly said that solving the region’s issues is contingent upon solving that of Palestine. How, then, is the [proposed] solution now because of Bush’s dilemma in Iraq?

Unfortunately, we have grown too accustomed to letting opportunities pass us by in spite of what is said. We missed our opportunity during the reign of Anwar Sadat and we missed it before that when we shunned the late Habib Bourguiba and even after that in the final days of President Bill Clinton’s term. Will we miss this opportunity today, and continue to allow these opportunities to pass us by forever? That is the question. The first step to be taken is to not let opportunities pass. This can be done by supporting the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. We should especially not take the death threats he has been receiving lightly, for there is because no difference between those of us who know and those that execute. After all, rarely has a killer been punished for a political crime before in the Arab World.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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