Totally missing from the reports about the flotilla has been any word of Hamas’s responsibility for the current situation. Hamas, after all, is the primary obstacle to advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Let’s recall that Israel withdrew its civilians and military from Gaza in 2005, transferring the territory to the Palestinian Authority. This golden opportunity to create a foundation for an independent state never was offered during Egypt’s occupation of Gaza from 1948-1967.
Tragically for the Palestinians, their own leaders squandered the opportunity. After the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, the Quartet — the United States, European Union, Russia, and United Nations — asked Hamas to recognize Israel; accept all existing Israeli-Palestinian agreements, which go back to the 1993 Oslo Accords; and renounce terrorism, so the group could join PA President Mahmoud Abbas in peace talks with Israel.
Hamas refused. Its defiance invited the international boycott of Hamas, cemented after it seized control of Gaza in a violent coup against the PA three years ago. The blockade has been international, not Israel’s alone, and it has been partial. Israel has consistently delivered tons and tons of humanitarian needs, including food, clothing, and medicine. It is not a siege and there is no humanitarian crisis.
While condemning Israel is easy, the onus really is on Hamas. Those who truly desire a permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace, who honestly support the goal of a two-state solution, understand that Hamas cannot be part of this process until it abandons terror and recognizes Israel’s right to a peaceful, secure existence.
Kenneth G. Peskin
President, Metro NJ
American Jewish Committee