Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians face a Catch-22. As the Sun's editorial, "Mr. Abbas' mission" (Feb. 13) points out, a unity government between Mr. Abbas' Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza is a necessary precondition to negotiate a two state solution. Unfortunately, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserts that Mr. Abbas can have peace with Israel or unity with Hamas, but not both. The Catch-22 is that Israel used the split in territorial control between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas as an excuse to not negotiate. Now that this has resolved, the very resolution is a reason to not negotiate.
We have seen this before. When the Oslo process threatened peace, Yitzhak Rabin was killed by an Israeli who was hailed as a hero by the Israeli right wing. Oslo died with Rabin. When peace again threatened, Ariel Sharon occupied "Temple Mount" with Israeli troops, touching off the Second Intifada, killing peace hopes and electing Mr. Sharon, all as he intended by his provocation. Israel claimed it could not negotiate with Yasser Arafat because he was a terrorist, yet when he died and Mr. Abbas became leader, Israel still did not negotiate, weakening Mr. Abbas and creating the opportunity for Hamas that Israel now uses as a pretext to not seek peace.
One would think that Israel does not really want peace; that it finds an eternal undemocratic occupation and subjugation of the Palestinians acceptable. But will the world?