This week the haggard and battered dove of peace took another blow to its wing, this time from the spirit of Palestinian reconciliation. The current reconciliation, like its predecessors, won’t hold water, but will teach us and remind us what many on the right already know: There isn’t much of a difference between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. If there was such a difference and the PA people were really “moderate,” as some Israeli politicians on the left are trying to argue, perhaps the PA wouldn’t be hurrying to shake hands with Hamas’ diplomatic officials, even if the Egyptian president asked them to. There are almost no gaps between the PA and Hamas with regard to relations with Israel.
- Palestinian reconciliation signed in Cairo: Abbas hails historic end of division between Hamas, Fatah
- Israel responds with restraint to Palestinian unity: 'We'll follow developments and act accordingly'
- Palestinian reconciliation deal: Abbas to rule the land and Hamas the underground
Still, what’s good about the Palestinian reconciliation is that it reminds us of the roots of the Palestinian Authority, roots that some of us are trying to forget. Over the years there has developed an erroneous public perception that the PA is more moderate than Hamas and therefore there’s someone to talk to in Ramallah. But the truth is there is no difference other than in their public relations and image, two areas that we actually nurtured. We’re the ones who gave the okay to Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, just as tomorrow we can decide to approve Ismail Haniyeh. We so wanted to see them as partners that we dressed them in grand ideas that had no basis; we called them partners, the moderate leadership, the chance for peace, etc.
But reality is stronger than words. Most of us could suffice with remembering the October 2000 lynching of Israeli soldiers in Ramallah, or with reading the testimonies of Palestinians suspected by the PA of assisting Israel, to understand what is hiding behind the diplomacy and grand words. But there are still those among us who believe that there’s a chance for peace and who choose to ignore the words of former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami, or who dismiss the updated conclusions of historian Benny Morris.
While these daydreamers are misreading reality, they don’t understand that the joke’s on them. Soon they will once again turn the memorial day for Yitzhak Rabin into a memorial day for Israeli democracy and bewail the peace that never was and never will be except in their illusions. And while they cry over democracy, real life will go on, because reconciliation between the PA and Hamas doesn’t just bring the PA into Gaza, but brings Hamas closer to Ramallah. And whether Hamas controls the West Bank or Ramallah controls Gaza, Israel will at some point be forced into a broad military operation not just to scratch the enemy, but to rebuff it and defeat it (a concept we’ve forgotten) and perhaps even to resettle those areas that we abandoned.
We really wanted to believe that there’s a chance for peace with the “moderates” from Ramallah. But it would behoove us to listen sometimes to what they actually say, and watch what they actually do, and understand that peace isn’t exactly their cup of tea. While there have been enough opportunities for us to wake up, those believers in peace will also miss the warning posed by Palestinian reconciliation. That’s what happens when reality is perceived as fantasy and fantasy as reality. That’s what happens when people aren’t prepared to let the peace dove retire in dignity.