Mahmoud Zahar, a leading figure in the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has spoken out on the current stalemate in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that has resulted from the resumption of Israel's illegal settlement construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
At a political forum held in Gaza City entitled "Direct negotiations to where?" Zahar asserted that the possibility of settlements being frozen for an additional month or two were aimed at keeping negotiations going for at least another year in order to take us past the US elections and called on Arab states not to provide cover for these negotiations.
Zahar stated that the Palestinian Authority should reject any offer of a freeze and should instead submit Mahmoud Abbas's resignation adding that this was the next logical step as his failure to resign reflects negatively on the Palestinian cause. He asserted that the Authority's threat to go to the Security Council in order to achieve the establishment of the Palestinians state was impractical and doubted whether America would accept such an approach and that it would not be applied.
He asserted that the Palestinian people would be forced to pay the price for any American elections as they have had to do with previous American presidents. Obama's current focus and for his next year in office will be on domestic policy and issues such as health insurance. Moreover, Obama faces a tough challenge in the upcoming mid-term elections from the Jewish lobby to reduce his ability to put American pressure on Israel.
Zahar stated that the settlement blackmail game had just begun and wondered what the mechanism of control would be should a freeze be announced. He also questioned the nature of topics under negotiation, the agenda of negotiations and its reference point. He also questioned the Israeli position on borders, security, the relationship between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem.
Speaking following an armed confrontation, Zahar pointed out that when a political stalemate is reached, the Israeli occupation resorts to changing the political map with threats of war which would lead to more tensions in the region.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad