December 2, 2002      Interactive Opinion Editorials                


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Hamas and the Palestinian-Israeli peace

An Interactive Opinion Editorial*

By Hassan El-Najjar** and Mike Chittum



Mike Chittum: 

In reviewing one of your responses, you state that Palestinian resistance would cease immediately should Israel cease it's occupation.  Does this include Hamas?  My understanding is that Hamas will never accept a permanent state of Israel.  If this is the case, what is the purpose of negotiation?  I'm trying to understand what Israel has to do to achieve peace, while remaining a nation.  Americans usually look for compromise and will support a solution that results in a separate Palestinian state.  Americans would gladly support funding for rebuilding as well, if it helps diffuse the non stop violence we have seen for 50-60 years. But, will Hamas cease it's activities with such a settlement?  Also, can it's many trained combatants return to peaceful lives (or begin)as shopkeepers, farmers, computer programmers, etc.?  Thank you.


Hassan El-Najjar

Hamas and the rest of the Palestinian organizations have always agreed to cease-fire if Israel withdraws from the Palestinian occupied territories. However, Israeli settlers and their supporters in the Israeli government have done everything they could to prevent a cease-fire or withdrawal. Everytime the Palestinian Authority secured an agreement with Hamas and Jihad to stop targeting Israelis inside Israel, the Israeli government (both Likude and Labor) would torpedo that by assassinating Palestinian leaders, killing civilians, and destroying Palestinian homes on daily basis. This leads to retaliation, like what happened two days ago in Beisan.

When Israelis end their occupation, negotiations can be more successful to finalize the many issues of concern, known as final status issues (refugees, Jerusalem, water, final borders, etc.). There are specific UN resolutions that guarantee Palestinian rights. Good faith negotiations will lead to permanent peace with time. But the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has to end first. Concerning Palestinian fighters, including Hamas fighters, they can be incorporated in the military force of the Palestinian state, like what happened in all cases of national liberation forces all over the world.

The Israeli occupation could not have been maintained without the unqualified support the Israeli government receives from the US government. Israel is completely protected by the US from any international pressure. About $4 billion of US annual financial and military aid to Israel has led only to supporting aggressive Israelis continue their brutal occupation. Right now, the Bush administration is about to approve $14 billion in financial and military aid to the Sharon government in order to increase the chances of the extreme Likude right-wing Party and its leader, Sharon, to win the January 28 elections against the pro-peace candidate, Amram Mitzna. 

The problem is not Hamas or any other Palestinian organization. Rather, it is Israeli government and the blind support it gets from the US. I don't see any near peace between Israelis and Palestinians as long as the Sharon settler government is not pressured by the US to make peace. That is why it is crucial for the American people to pressure the Bush administration to stop its blind support for the Israeli aggressors.

It is easy to blame the victims but that does not solve the problem. It is courageous and productive to admit the truth and confront the wrong doers. Only then, there will be real progress to peace in the world. Otherwise, Cold War II will continue to involve Israel and the US in a long conflict with Arabs and Muslims for decades to come.

Finally, remember that in 1948, Israelis evicted most Palestinians from their lands and never compensated them for their property or allowed them to return to their homes. In 1967, Israelis occupied the rest of Palestine together with the other Arab territories of Sinai and the Golan Heights. For 35 years now, it is Israel that has been occupying the Palestinian territories and controlling the Palestinian people. Palestinians are not occupying Israel. It is the Israelis who have F-16s, Apache helicopters, tanks, bulldozers, and the US blind financial and military support. They use all of that to continue their aggression and their occupation. Remember these simple facts and you will never be confused about who is the aggressor and what should be done.


* In interactive editorials, the editor of Al-Jazeerah answers questions and or responds to comments of readers, which are more general than readers' responses to specific articles or issues. It is an effective method of interaction in electronic journalism.

** Dr. Hassan A. El-Najjar is the editor of Al-Jazeerah.

Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.