Who’s in charge?
If you turn to page 12 of this week’s Chronicle, you’ll find a short story about the exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, suggesting in a New York Times interview that his terrorist group may be prepared to live with a two-state solution set along the 1967 borders.
That alone is enough to raise a few eyebrows, but Meshaal, speaking from his exile in Damascus, Syria, goes on to say that Hamas has halted its rocket fire into southern Israel.
Apparently the Gaza branch of Hamas didn’t get the memo. JTA reported Wednesday that a Kassam rocket and at least six mortar shells struck southern Israel. The rocket landed near Ashkelon Wednesday morning, causing no damage.
Instead of admitting a mistake, if for no other reason than to help its exiled leader save face, Hamas did what it normally does in such cases: it claimed responsibility — at least for the mortar shells that landed.
According to the IDF, this is the third time since April 30 that Israel has come under attack from Gaza.
So much for a cease-fire.
These attacks pose some serious questions for the Obama administration as it moves forward with its plans to revive the peace process. Who calls the shots for Hamas? Is there a power struggle going on? And if there is, how can Hamas be considered a reliable peace partner under any circumstances?
Hamas leaders in Gaza and abroad have contradicted themselves before, but on this they agree: Israel (read, the Jews) is the enemy. Meshaal said it himself in the very same Times interview in which he suggests a softening of his position. Neither does he offer to revoke the Hamas charter, which calls for Israel’s destruction and cites “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” as fact.
Simply put, this is an organization that cannot be trusted.
That is why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on his first U.S. visit this week as PM, ought to be given some slack as he cautiously calls for negotiations with the Palestinians “without preconditions.”
This paper reaffirms its support for a two-state solution, but not at any cost. As long as the Palestinian leadership is so divided, sending out such mixed messages, coming to the world community with, as Yasser Arafat once said, “an olive branch in one hand and a pistol in the other,” progress toward that two-state solution must be understandably slow.