Singling out the Palestinians? Reciprocal demands are the key to peace

Moshe Behar in Electronic Intifada:

Quartet30012006In and around Israel’s “capital of the Qassam rockets,” where I teach, the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections has left Israelis as divided as always. While some think that it can be a positive development – as Hamas is probably the sole Palestinian party capable of delivering on a binding Israeli-Palestinian agreement – others deem this wishful thinking and believe the existing Israeli-Palestinian gridlock will continue for years to come. A recent poll reflects this ambivalence with 48% of Israelis favoring a dialogue with Hamas and 43% against.

Amid this internal Israeli debate, the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations – the so-called Middle East Quartet – delivered an insufficiently helpful message. Erroneously convinced that they had ‘lined up in solidarity’ with us, Israeli Jews, the Quartet lost no time declaring that Hamas “must be committed to nonviolence, recognize Israel and accept the previous agreements and commitments.”

Appropriate as these words may or may not be, even entering students in Sderot understand that any political tango takes two to succeed and that singling out Hamas for special treatment is certain to benefit neither Israelis nor Palestinians in this troubled land. Why, therefore, has the Quartet never declared that “Israel must be committed to nonviolence, recognize a Palestinian state and accept the previous agreements and commitments”?

Self-proclaimed “pro-Israeli” individuals are likely to label this proposition preposterous; yet the honest among them must recall two empirical facts. First, an examination of the pattern of “violence” of the past five years reveals that the Palestinian-Israeli ratio of deaths stands at 4:1. Thus, ending this violence depends as much on Israel’s compliance with the Quartet’s terms as with the Palestinians.

More here.  [Thanks Shiko.]