Even in this region, where diplomatic platitudes don't begin to disguise the preferential treatment afforded Israel (although it is the occupier), the mandate of the new Quartet envoy Tony Blair rings particularly hollow. His role is reported as being 'to help create viable and lasting government institutions representing all Palestinians ... and a climate of law and order for the Palestinian people.'
Internal Palestinian negotiations between Hamas and Fatah may yet stop the disintegration of the Palestinians' civil institutions and the complete severance between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, at the last moment. These institutions functioned during the most difficult times under Israeli military attacks, but started to crumble after January last year when the West, Israel and some Fatah elements tried in vain to topple a Hamas government founded on democratic elections.
One can go on about Hamas' brutal takeover of the security apparatus in the Gaza Strip, and one could go back and discuss the chaos deliberately brought on by the leaders of those organs. Indeed, Hamas appears to be determined to prove that a national-Muslim regime in the 'liberated' area is effective. But Hamas is not homogenous, and the boycott and siege policy has merely strengthened its extremists and their anonymous handlers...
[B]oth movements are well aware that ultimately they will have to climb down, and that only negotiations can deliver the ladders they need to do so. Only a return to the logic of internal dialogue can save the institutions that Blair was sent "to help create."
One of my most knowledgeable and assiduous readers has urged me to seek out and post pieces on Palestinian life by Amira Hass. This is the first piece by her I've seen in a while. Haas is an exceptionally tough internal critic of Israeli policy, and I often find it painful to read her reports. I often disagree with her policy prescriptions, as I do here. But those who care for Israel and its future, not to speak of the human suffering of the Palestinian people, cannot blinker their eyes from the harsh realities she typically forces us to confront.