Fatah/Hamas-Threat Or Opportunity?

Career diplomats in the Israel Foreign Ministry have come up with a completely different interpretation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the recent compromise between Fatah and Hamas. Their internal report emphasizes; “the Palestinian move is not only a security threat but also a strategic opportunity to create a genuine change in the Palestinian context. Such change may serve the long term interests of Israel.” The Foreign Ministry policy planning staff concluded that Israel should adopt a “constructive approach” rather than continuing its negative rejection of any opportunity for compromise. “Israel must be a team player” which works cooperatively with the Palestinian Authority. In the long term such an attitude serves the interests of Israel.

At the heart of the report is rejection of the Netanyahu yelling and threatening approach which only increases anger and plays to domestic voting blocs rather than creating the basis for a long term resolution of the current impasse between Israel and Palestinians. These diplomats urge Netanyahu to speak in measured terms, to indicate a willingness to engage in discussion with the new Palestinian government and place the burden of failure on their shoulders rather than coming across as the negative person in the room.

The authors of the report urged sending a delegation to Cairo and coordinate efforts with the new Egyptian government. It also recommends asking the UN to establish criteria that would help guide future discussions and agreements. “We must avoid expressions or moves that will weaken Israel against the Palestinians in the international arena.” Unfortunately, this sound recommendation will not be heard by either Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman or Prime Minister Netanyahu.