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Opinion

Opinion

Tensions mark talks

August 14, 2010

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When recently the Arab League backed restarting direct peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, but only when the Palestinians believe the circumstances are right, the response of Hamas was of angry rejection. The movement’s Damascus-based leader Khaled Mashaal not only said that such negotiations were illegitimate, he denied the Arab League’s right to make such a pronouncement.

That view cannot stand unchallenged. The Arab League is the only body that can legitimately represent and endorse Arab views. It is to the Arab world what the United Nations is to the whole world. Through decisions adopted at its meetings of Arab foreign, finance or other ministers or at summits of heads of government and state, Arab policies are made. ...

Questioning the legitimacy of talking to Israel wastes Palestinian energies and does nothing for the cause. Legitimacy is not the issue. The issue is Israeli political sabotage. The reality is that neither Hamas’ efforts at a prisoner exchange nor direct peace talks between the PA and the Israelis are happening because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not want them to happen and continually does everything to stop them happening. ...

What is so galling, though, is that President Barack Obama colludes in Netanyahu’s devious and dishonest game. The White House endorses the call for direct talks without preconditions and has been piling the pressure on Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to agree. It is desperate for a breakthrough in the Middle East for which it can claim credit. It wants progress at any price — except there is a most poisonous one if settlements continue to grow. It is Abbas’ humiliation, Palestinian rejection and a moral victory for Hamas. Is Washington so naive not to imagine that it is going to happen?

Online: http://arabnews.com

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