In a May 4th report in the the New York Times, Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas, announced that the Hamas organization had "grounded it's rockets - for now," and would not fire on Israel. This act of benevolence to the people no longer under attack, is in preparation for the realization of a two-state solution for Palestine, as outlined by Hamas.
Saying that his coalition would not recognize Israel, Meshaal "urged" critics to ignore the fact the Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel, saying simply that it was a twenty-year-old document. According to the NYT, Meshaal "gave off an air of serene self-confidence..., as he said "There is only one enemy in the region, and that is Israel."
Meshaal said the Hamas position supports a two-state solution that returns the lands taken in the 1967 War and he throws a ten-year-truce into the bargain. Under this plan, Israel would return East Jerusalem, destroy the settlements, and guarantee the "right of return of the Palestinian refugees."
Apart from the time restriction and the refusal to accept Israel’s existence, Mr. Meshal’s terms approximate the Arab League peace plan and what the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas says it is seeking.
Israel rejects a full return to the 1967 borders, as well as a Palestinian right of return to Israel itself.One thing to remember about Israel returning lands to Palestine, is that it recreates the militarily indefensible borders that Israel went to war in 1967 to protect. As Israel began to implement the National Water Carrier plan, diverting water from the Sea of Galilee for irrigation, a plan that established in the League of Nations mandate, the Arabs refused the plan because, to them, it meant that they were recognizing Israel.
In January and February 1965, terrorist acts were perpetrated against Israeli water-carrier operations. In an 18 month period, there were 120 attacks, and eleven people died. The armistice agreements from the War of Independence allowed Israel to cultivate the demilitarized zones. The Syrians fired on the Israelis and Israel returned the fire aggressively. Syria took it's shelling to northern Israeli towns and then added air bombardments. There were many political dynamics at play at the time, including some shenanigans by the USSR.
In mid-May 1967, it was obvious Egypt was amassing it's military in the Sinai desert. On May 23rd, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships. The U.S. did nothing. The PLO boasted at the U.N. that they would expel the Zionists from Palestine and destroy the Nation of Israel. The U.S. participated in growing the story, claiming that the tensions between Israel and Syria were due to Israel cultivating the demilitarized zone, when in fact the tension was all about the water - which no country can survive without.
U.S. President Lyndon Johnson was impotent, for all practical purposes. He could not get Europe to step-in, or Congress to honor the promise to Israel to protect shipping lines in the Strait of Tiran, and he would not offer the military support promised in the event the Straits were closed before other action could be taken. The U.S. would do nothing. Johnson wanted to do nothing.
Late May, Jordan signed a defense pact with Egypt. Boasts were made that Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon would take care of Israel with Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation standing at the ready. On the day the war broke out, June 5, 1967, the State Department issued this message: "the U.S. position is neutral in word, thought and deed."
According to reports, and I don't know if this is true, or legend, Israel dug 10,000 graves and readied 14,000 hospital beds. To the world, the U.S. held that Israel would win handily, but our own CIA reports belied this.
The day before the start of the war, Iraq joined Iraq and Egypt. The war ensued and Israel won. No need to go into how it won, the point is that Israel's borders needed defending, their water carriers needed to be restored and defended, and their shipping lanes needed to be restored and defended. All that was accomplished in the war, along with the gain of territory that help put some distance between Israel and her enemies.
Palestine is promising a ten-year-truce in exchange for their pre-1967 borders, with no promise of respect for Israel as a nation, or Israel as a people, or Israelis as humans. To think that Palestine will honor a cease-fire is a true willing suspension of disbelief.
This takes me back to Hamas leader Meshaal's announcement that rocket firings into Israel had stopped. Today, May 10 2009, The Jerusalem Post reports that a Kassam rocket fired by terrorists in the northern Gaza Strip hit near a kibbutz in western Negev.
Photo credit: National Geographic, Annie Griffiths Belt