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An open letter to Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar

By Alon Ben-Meir - posted Monday, 11 June 2018


You cannot spend millions of dollars on military preparation while denying your own people basic necessities-food, drinking water, and healthcare-and blame it on the blockade.

You cannot claim to be victimized by Israel when in fact you have been passing that sense of victimhood from one generation to the next, subjecting your people to a life of indignity and despair.

You are corrupt not because you steal money, make shady deals, or live a lavish life at the expense of the poor. You are politically and ideologically corrupt because you continue to promote policies and an ideology that instigates violent resistance while making false promises that the day of salvation is near. However, the innocent – young and old – are paying the price.

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The clock is not ticking in your favor. The Arab states have largely abandoned you. You are still labeled as a terrorist organization by Western powers. You are provided a meager assistance by Iran to battle Israel from the south, only to be exploited to serve Tehran's own interests in its confrontation with Israel.

You are blockaded by a sister Arab state-Egypt-because of your continuing violent extremism and religious zealotry. You are supported by Turkey's President Erdogan, but he is only using the Palestinians' plight in Gaza to serve his own sinister agenda as the champion of Muslim causes.

You have stated on a number of occasions in the past that you are willing to establish a Palestinian state with borders based on the 1967 ceasefire line. Why not make this the official policy of Hamas?

You must accept Israel's reality because there will never come a day when you will have the capacity to wage a war and win. Israel has and remains the mightiest regional power and any serious existential threat by any country will be suicidal.

What you must do now is take all the necessary measures to change the dynamic of the conflict and do so gradually but consistently to demonstrate to the entire international community that you intend to bring the conflict with Israel to an honorable end by taking the following measures:

Aim for the removal of the stigma of being a terrorist organization, especially by Western powers, by forsaking violence and pledging to work toward a two-state solution, which the West still strongly supports.

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Stop your poisonous narrative against Israel, which plays directly into the hands of its right-wing political parties, allowing them to make a convincing argument that, notwithstanding your occasional overture in support of a two-state solution, you are committed to Israel's destruction.

Engage in a process of reconciliation first to nurture trust which is sorely lacking, and leave to a later date solutions to the major conflicting issues, including the ultimate future of Jerusalem, the disposition of the settlements, and final borders.

End the futility of rehashing the past, which only misleads the public, reinforces wrong assumptions, raises false hope, and promotes hostilities instead of reducing tensions, suspicion, and distrust.

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About the Author

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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