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Mitchell must talk with Hamas and Israel must recognize Palestine's right to exist

By Eileen Fleming, April 18, 2009

On April 16, 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed Special Mid East Envoy George Mitchell that "Israel expects the Palestinians to first recognize Israel as a Jewish state before talking about two states for two peoples."

Israel is a Jewish state where Jewish people are welcome and also an Ethnocracy:
"Israel is a not a democracy but is an Ethnocracy, meaning a country run and controlled by a national group with some democratic elements but set up with Jews in control and structured to keep them in control.”-Jeff Halper, American-Israeli, Founder and Coordinator of ICAHD/Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and a Noble Peace Prize Nominee for 2006.
On January 31, 2006, Khalid Mish'al, spokesperson for the political bureau of Hamas wrote for The Guardian:
"We shall never recognize the right of any power to rob us of our land and deny us our national rights. We shall never recognize the legitimacy of a Zionist state created on our soil in order to atone for somebody else's sins or solve somebody else's problem. But if you are willing to accept the principle of a long-term truce, we are prepared to negotiate the terms. Hamas is extending a hand of peace to those who are truly interested in a peace based on justice.
"The day Hamas won the Palestinian democratic elections the world's leading democracies failed the test of democracy…The US and EU could have used the success of Hamas to open a new chapter in their relations with the Palestinians, the Arabs and the Muslims and to understand better a movement that has so far been seen largely through the eyes of the Zionist occupiers of our land.
"We have seen how other nations, including the peoples of Vietnam and South Africa, persisted in their struggle until their quest for freedom and justice was accomplished. We are no different, our cause is no less worthy, our determination is no less profound and our patience is no less abundant. [1]
On April 16, 2009, Mitchell told reporters after meeting with Foreign Minister Lieberman, [who rejected the negotiations begun toward Palestinian statehood at Annapolis] "I reiterated to the foreign minister that U.S. policy favors, with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a two-state solution which will have a Palestinian state living in peace alongside the Jewish state of Israel." [2] 
Sen. George Mitchell's 2000 "Mitchell Report" on the Middle East became the backbone of the "Road Map" to peace, which called for a halt to Israeli settlements and an independent viable Palestinian state by 2005.
In a statement released from the Israeli Foreign Minister's office Lieberman was quoted as telling Mitchell that the Israeli government will have to formulate new ideas and a new approach to achieve peace with the Palestinians and Arab states in the region, and work to improve the economic situation for the Palestinians. Shimon Peres stated, "No door to peace has been closed and I believe that this year is a decisive year in the Middle East. We do not have time to waste." [Ibid]
How many years can some people exist before they're allowed to be free? How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died? The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind…
Meaningful negotiations for peace are unrealistic unless all parties have the right to be heard and given equal voice and justice must be sought; just as Mitchell did in Ireland.
The winds of change blew with the appointment of George Mitchell who is seeking to negotiate a sustainable cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Since 1995, Mitchell has been active in the Northern Ireland peace process as the United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland. Mitchell led the commission that established the principles on non-violence to which all parties in Northern Ireland adhered to and which then led to an all-party peace negotiations.

The Good Friday Agreement, officially known as the Belfast Peace Agreement was signed on Good Friday 1998.
It was Mitchell's personal intervention with all sides that brokered success beyond the talks.
The split between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank can-and must be reconciled and a coalition government can-and must be formed; for the popular struggle for self-determination and freedom from oppression and occupation can never be sanctioned to death.
"It's not dark yet, but it's getting there."-Bob Dylan
Ambassador Warren Clark, Executive Director for Churches for Middle East Peace traveled to the Holy Land in December and reported on the universal skepticism about the possibility of a peaceful resolution.
"Palestinians complained that they had seen their government negotiate with Israel and the U.S. for over a year with few visible results while Israeli settlements continued their inexorable expansion into Palestinian territories. Even as internal security in the West Bank improved, with Palestinian police training and Palestinian borders with Israel remaining quiet, over 600 road blocks remained deep in the West Bank, choking off commerce and ready access to jobs, schools, hospitals and holy places.
"In Jerusalem, threat of Palestinian house demolitions continued for lack of Israeli building permits while Israeli housing expanded apace. West Bank Palestinians remained unable to reside with a Jerusalem resident spouse.
"The 1.5 million residents of Gaza, for a second year, remained cut off from the world except for a trickle of "humanitarian" food and medicine, hapless hostages to the political tensions between Israel and Hamas. Hamas remained in control of Gaza and continued to employ indiscriminate rocket and mortar attacks. We left the region just before the ceasefire collapsed with a spiral of rocket attacks against southern Israel and massive Israeli retaliation that left a reported 13 Israeli and 1,300 residents of Gaza dead, many of whom were women and children.
"In these circumstances hope was a scarce commodity. One thoughtful Christian leader told us there was just too much politics, too much religion, and too much foreign meddling for there to be real progress for peace." [3]
The blockade of Gaza persists as do the growing mounds of rubbled homes and infrastructure while only limited humanitarian aid is allowed through the checkpoints in a Machiavellian effort designed to deny Hamas any political credit for the reconstruction.
"The Israeli non-governmental organization Peace Now notes that if all Israeli housing plans in the West Bank were completed, the Israeli settler population would double. Likud party chief Benjamin Netanyahu, who will lead the next government, favors improving the Palestinian economic situation rather than actually working to create a viable Palestinian state. Other parties that made strong gains support settlement expansion and another notoriously calls on Israel to rid itself of most of its Palestinian citizens that make up nearly 20 percent of Israel's population." [Ibid]
In the past the U.S. and EU have refused to deal with a coalition government until Hamas agreed to recognize Israel. Times have changed and Hamas is not going away, so Mitchell must talk with them and they should be allowed the opportunity to participate in a coalition that would recognize Israel as a state while upholding their right to not accept "the right of any power to rob our land and deny us our national rights."
On April 5, 2009, in Prague speaking about a nuclear free world, President Obama ended with, "Words must mean something…There is violence and injustice in our world that must be confronted. We must confront it by standing together as free nations, as free people. I know that a call to arms can stir the souls of men and women more than a call to lay them down. But that is why the voices for peace and progress must be raised together…Human destiny will be what we make of it."
Human beings have rights and states and nations have obligations; and there can be no peace without justice. Justice requires the honoring of the rights of the indigenous people to be free from occupation and the mission for Mitchell at this time is to aggressively pursue an End to the Occupation through justice. Justice requires listening to both sides, holding each equally accountable for their actions and to the same standards.



Eileen Fleming, is the Founder of WAWA:




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