The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has the role of being the sole legitimate representative of all Palestinians (11 million worldwide) and whatever the classification of Hamas as an organisation (terrorist, Jihadist, nationalist, Islamist …etc) does not, in any way, make it less Palestinian. Why do I say this in particular, why this opening?
Typically, when I get involved in discussions with Israelis, they seem to digest whatever I say, no matter how much they disagree with me, and most of the time the discussion ends with a smile and a hand-shake. However, whenever I advocate for the possibility of Hamas joining the PLO, the whole course of discussion shifts, it intensifies and becomes less comfortable. Despite the fact that the PLO is the only Palestinian body that is authorised to sign agreements and recognise final solutions and other entities on behalf of Palestinians; still some individuals just cannot see, or choose not to see, the necessity of Hamas joining. One obvious reason why most Israelis argue against this is their solid belief that Hamas is a “terrorist” group, with an American blessing for the label. But there is a huge contradiction in such a label, and especially in PM Netanyahu’s oscillation that has confused people from both sides and maybe confused the leaders as well. First, Netanyahu utterly refused any kind of negotiations with Hamas as it calls for the destruction of Israel. Then Netanyahu criticised Abbas for reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas, while complaining at the same time that Palestinians do not have a united body that represents them, so he (and his government) is obviously confused.
If one follows Khaled Meshaal’s speeches they can see many indicators in the obvious changes in Hamas’ policies, and these provide the atmosphere for believing that Hamas is ready and capable of leading Palestinians into a new phase. This phase doesn’t have to be violent or bloody; as Hamas has been able to maintain security in Gaza so far, and was able to stop rockets from coming from the Gaza Strip into Israel in accordance with the recently signed treaty with Israel. By insuring a relative calmness in Gaza, Hamas has proved to the international community that it has both the will and the means to rule any part of the country. It is as if Hamas is saying to the international community that they should have trusted them in 2006 after winning legislative elections. The clear political position of Hamas towards the two-state solution leaves no space for political speculations; it states clearly that Hamas will stop resisting once Israel withdraws to 1967 borders. This clearly states that Hamas agrees to the solution and shows its readiness to join the PLO.
This “game” of politics, however, is so indifferent to both peoples’ suffering and to other facts that are intentionally blurred and buried. The Israeli community does not hear Netanyahu talking about the fact that Hamas joining the PLO would basically means agreeing to the PLO charter, which would mean adoption of the idea of a two-state solution, with 1967 borders. Now compared to Hamas’ current charter that states clearly the aspiration of establishing an Islamic state, the PLO charter is much more appealing to even the most extreme far right ideology in Israel.
No one of course is claiming that a magical solution lies in Hamas joining the PLO, but it would end the curent status quo, and it would result in a Palestinian united body and representative. If Netanyahu is true to the peace process and to the two-state solution, and most importantly to his people, he should not stand in the way of reconciliation efforts made by Palestinians factions. Reconciliation, and Hamas joining the PLO, would be a huge step towards ending the conflict, Palestinians should see this as great and should publicise it allover the world. Hamas is a Palestinian political party, it has the right to be part of the PLO, to be part of the Palestinian political body. With all that has been said Hamas joining the PLO would be effective, and Palestinians should not (would not) yield to Israel’s will concerning that.