Saturday, June 2, 2007

"Hey, boss -- you gotta get these people off our backs"

Interesting, if true:

Hamas is willing to stop firing Kassam rockets at Israel if Israel stops targeting members of Hamas's armed wing, Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Mashaal told Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr Al Thani on Friday.

A Palestinian source told Israel Radio that Mashaal made his proposal to Thani in a phone conversation. The Qatari leader then contacted Olmert and informed him of what Mashaal had said.

As of midnight Friday, there was no Israeli confirmation of the proposal, and no official response.

Only two days ago, Mashaal was blustering that the Qassam attacks would never stop. Apparently he got the call that unless he was willing to call off the Qassams, Israel might arrange that he would no longer have any members of his armed wing -- at least, none willing to poke their heads out of their hidey-holes long enough to launch any more rockets.

Of course, the offer is inadequate. Hamas has to guarantee that no faction or armed group in Gaza will fire any Qassam rockets at Israel. It would be interesting to see whether the Israelis could then get a counter-offer from Fatah to stop all factions from firing Qassams.

Then whichever of the two -- Hamas or Fatah -- that succeeds in fulfilling its commitment can become the de facto Palestinian representative in future peace negotiations. Unwillingness (as has been the case with Hamas) or inability (as has been the case with Fatah) to enforce a total cessation of attacks on Israel is certainly proof that a party cannot negotiate a meaningful peace agreement

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