Many observers in the international community tend to regard the Fatah party of the Palestinian Authority as a “moderate” organization. It may be that this is the case when Fatah is contrasted with the genocidal terrorist movement known as Hamas. And indeed, Fatah’s leadership has been known on occasion to talk the talk (“walking the walk” is another matter), mainly to reassure this international community (if not the Israelis).
Let us give the benefit of the doubt and assume that when Fatah talks peace, they mean what they say (and that their many pronouncements glorifying violence and terror attacks on Israelis were all “taken out of context”).
Now that Fatah and Hamas have cemented their partnership within the Palestinian Authority, the questions we must ask is, who speaks for the Palestinians?
On willingness to negotiate with Israel, should we believe Fatah?
- We are ready to negotiate… We are partners with the Israelis. – Fatah Leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Or is it Hamas?
- We will never, we will never, we will never recognize Israel. – Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh
On willingness to be a partner for peace with Israel, should we believe Fatah?
- We told everybody that we want peace, we are ready to achieve a real and comprehensive peace. – Fatah Leader Mahmoud Abbas
- They have legitimised the murder of their own children by killing the children of Palestine… They have legitimised the killing of their people all over the world by killing our people. – Hamas Leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar
If a peace agreement between Israelis and the Palestinians could be reached, what do Palestinians want to see in terms of the viability and security of both states? Should we believe Fatah?
- There was Israel established, and a second state should be established on the pre-1967 line. Both states should live together in peace and stability. This is our requirement and this is what we also need. – Fatah Leader Mahmoud Abbas
- Our plan for this stage is to liberate any inch of Palestinian land, and to establish a state on it. Our ultimate plan is [to have] Palestine in its entirety. I say this loud and clear so that nobody will accuse me of employing political tactics. We will not recognize the Israeli enemy. – Hamas Leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar
No one, perhaps not even the Palestinian leaders themselves, can fully explain how much power and influence Hamas will have in the new partnership. But clearly, they will have some power and influence.
So long as Hamas remains part of the Palestinian Authority, how can Israel or the international community continue to work with the Palestinian Authority?