America Reaches Out to Palestinian Leaders

by Jan Frazier

Jerusalem (Washington Insider Magazine)  There have been weeks of unrest between Israel and the Palestinians along with 11 days of actual war in Gaza. The international community plus the U.S. “plan to engage with the Palestinians to revive peace efforts.

Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, will visit on Tuesday and talk with Palestinian leaders “who were sidelined by the protests and outmaneuvered by the militant Hamas group.”

The Palestinians are still very much divided as they have been since Mahmoud Abbas was elected president in 2005. The first election in 15 years were called off last month by Abbas. “It looked like his splintering Fatah party would suffer an embarrassing defeat.”

The Palestinian Authority still, however, wants to have close ties with Israel, and “is deeply invested in the idea of a two-state solution.” Unfortunately, there have not been any “substantive peace talks in more than a decade.” Still, on an international basis, the peace talks look like the “only way to resolve the conflict.”

Hamas, an Islamic military group, won in a tremendous victory in the 2006 elections. They are thought to do well again in the next election. However, Hamas will not recognize Israel’s right to exist. In addition, Hamas is “blacklisted as a terrorist organization.”

The officials in both Israel and the U.S. are hoping to “strengthen the Palestinian Authority at the expense of Hamas.” This is a process that has “been tried and failed repeatedly since Hamas seized power in Gaza from Abbas’ forces in 2007.”

The Palestinian Authority seems – to many Palestinians – to be an “entrenched and increasingly unbearable system of Israeli domination that extends far beyond the occupied West Bank.”

Palestinian anger became great last month “with protests and clashes in Jerusalem that eventually spread across the region.” Even the Palestinian citizens living in Israel were drawn in. All of this triggered the Gaza war.

The Hamas “fired long-range rockets that disrupted an Israeli parade celebrating its claims to the city.” This is what started the Gaza war. More than 250 people were killed. The majority of those killed were Palestinians.


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