POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY ZVI HEIFETZ IN THE GUARDIAN
What an utterly disingenuous piece of writing Mr Heifetz offers.
"Israel has put its money where its mouth is, releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and freeing huge sums in revenues."
Hundreds? Israel released 250, and that only after weeks of fanfare and pumped-up headlines. Israel holds about 9,000 Palestinians arrested illegally and held with no rights.
Freeing huge sums? First, the money is not Israel's to hold. It belongs to the Palestinians.
Israel believes it has the right to withhold the money of others just because it doesn't like the government they elected?
Then, when it gives part of it back and it is only part, it wants to be praised as a peacemaker and a generous spirit. This is simply ridiculous.
As for Hamas, it is just the opposite to what Mr Heifetz says. Talking to Hamas won't destroy prospects for peace, but refusing to will almost certainly.
Heifetz, like all members of the Israeli government, insists on regarding Hamas as a bunch of "terrorists."
Now quite apart from the fact that Israel was in part founded on terror - the Irgun, the Stern gang, blowing up people in the King David Hotel, terrorizing Palestinian areas, and at least one mass murder of Palestinian families intended to make people run in terror - the fact is Hamas is a legitimate organization.
Israel secretly supported it for years to help create opposition for Fatah. It wanted to stir up conflict in the territories, which is precisely what it has succeeded in doing.
You can't pretend a major interest like Hamas does not exist and get peace.
It does not matter at all whether Hamas recognizes Israel. Many governments refuse to recognize other states, including of course Israel's refusal to recognize the legitimacy of Palestine.
The United States went for years without recognizing the Soviet Union. It has gone more than forty years refusing to recognize the government of Castro.
The failure of recognition does not prevent two states from living in peace and with some cooperation.
Were Israel just once to show some largeness of spirit in these matters, there could be real peace. Then, over time, the Palestinians would grow used to cooperation and peace. Eventually recognition would come.
But Israel's position remains - as Mr Heifetz's words confirm without intending to - that the Palestinians must come to the negotiating table already having met Israel's key demands.
Israel has no idea of what it is to properly negotiate. It simply refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the other parties, saying it won't deal with them until they've already compromised.
Ridiculous and the real reason we have no peace.