Monday, September 25, 2006

What unity government?

Looks like the Palestinians need to get their house in order before they can conduct meaningful negotiations with Israel.

After Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said a Palestinian unity government would recognize Israel, Hamas flatly contradicted him. Now the unity talks have been postponed.

Abbas wants a political platform honouring interim peace deals with the Jewish state, which he hopes will satisfy the West. Hamas has sought vague wording that would not contradict the group's charter calling for Israel's destruction.

The president has accused Hamas of reneging on an agreement reached earlier this month on the political programme for the unity government. Hamas has denied the allegation.

This situation needs more than "vague wording." It needs a clear committment to peace talks from the Palestinians. And Abbas should hold Hamas' feet to the fire until they agree. Until then, Hamas cannot be taken seriously in diplomatic efforts.

Maybe Abbas will renew his pledge to call a referendum on recognizing Israel. That would be a gutsy move that would bring this crisis to a head.

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