Oh Well, Back To The Drawing Board

by James Kirchick | April 29, 2008

Readers may recall that two weeks ago, Ezra Klein announced the "bombshell" revelation that Hamas leader Khaled Meshal had "stated his willingness to accept 'a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 boundaries -- that is, alongside Israel, not in place of it.'" He expressed bewilderment that no one in the Western media had paid any attention to this diplomatic breakthrough. That's because people who follow these events with even a modicum of interest understand that this "bombshell" was merely an offer of a "hudna," a temporary truce that implicitly carries the promise of more terrorism. There have been many such offers in the past, and will be many such offers in the future.

Just a few days ago, Meshal confirmed what any casual, non-credulous observer of Middle Eastern affairs already knew, that any "ceasefire" would be just that, temporary:

"It is a tactic in conducting the struggle ... It is normal for any resistance ... to sometimes escalate, other times retreat a bit. ... Hamas is known for that. In 2003, there was a cease-fire and then the operations were resumed."

Klein's credulity is reminiscent of Jimmy Carter, who met with Meshal in Damascus last week. After the meeting, the former peanut farmer claimed that "[Hamas] said that they would accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders if approved by Palestinians and that they would accept the right of Israel to live as a neighbour, next door, in peace." And yet:

Hours after Carter spoke Meshaal told a press conference in Damascus that Hamas would not recognise the Jewish state and would insist on the right of some 4.5 million Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.

Last week, Bernard Henri-Levy remarked that "Mr. Carter has demonstrated an unusual capacity to transform a political error into a disastrous moral mistake." If only other liberal pundits could be as discerning.

 --James Kirchick

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/oh-well-back-the-drawing-board