Yousef Rizqa, a key adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, evaluated last week ongoing efforts by U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table with Israel. He’s not pleased:
Dr. Yousef Rizqa, political adviser to Gaza prime minister, warned against “a new catastrophe similar to the Oslo Accord catastrophe,” in light of PA’s willingness to resume negotiations with the Israeli side. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry began a new tour in the region to push for the resumption of negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian parties. He will arrive to the Palestinian territories on Thursday.
The international community has sought to forge a Palestinian government capable both of living up to its signed obligations with Israel and of governing the territories Palestinians reserve for a future state. Currently those territories are split between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Fatah-controlled areas of the West Bank. The inability of a single Palestinian government to control all Palestinian territory would almost by definition constitute a failed state.
Efforts to establish a unity government that would control both the Gaza Strip and West Bank, however, have consistently failed, in part due to animosity between Fatah and Hamas. Should they succeed, Hamas’s consistent refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist would deadlock Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and undermine the new government’s international legitimacy. Western officials have emphasized that Hamas’s participation in any unity government must be accompanied by the group meeting signed Palestinian obligations, including the recognition of Israel.
Contemporary statements by Hamas officials rejecting negotiations, more over, have the potential to undermine current negotiations between the Jewish state and the Western-backed, Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority. Anticipating a future unity government which includes rejectionist Hamas elements willing to abbrogate past treaties, Israeli negotiators may be loathe to make irreversible territorial concessions in current negotiations.
Secretary of State Kerry this weekend has claimed that he’s made “real progress” towards restarting talks between Israel and the Palestinians
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