Israel Resource Review 13th Febuary, 2007


Mecca Agreement: No Recognition of Israel

Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence' Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC. www.Intelligence.Org.Il

February 13 , 2007

Hamas spokesmen stress that the Mecca Agreement does not recognize Israel. Although the Agreement does not meet the Quartet's demands, Abu Mazen and Hamas expect it will be possible to market it to the international community with the help of Saudi Arabia.

1. The entire Hamas movement and its various spokesmen praised the Mecca Agreement and expressed their commitment to implementing both its text and intentions. Hamas announced that it hoped the Agreement would bring internal Palestinian reconciliation and enable them to turn their resources to the conflict with Israel and its challenges (Hamas Website, February 9).

2. Khaled Mashaal , head of Hamas's political bureau, made it clear that Hamas was committed to the government's new letter of appointment, which includes honoring agreements previously signed by the PLO with Israel . He even described it as "a new diplomatic language," adopted by Hamas because of "national need." However, he specifically stated that Hamas had not changed it fundamental position and that "every faction retained its own political opinions" (Agence France-Presse, February 9).

3. In various interviews, Khaled Mashaal and other Hamas spokesmen clearly stated that the Mecca Agreement did not contain recognition of Israel and that Hamas had no intention of recognizing Israel :

A. Khaled Mashaal was asked by an interviewer from Al-Hayat if honoring agreements signed by the PLO meant recognition of Israel . He answered that the issue of recognition had not been raised at the discussions in Mecca (Al-Hayat, February 10). B. Nizar Rayan , a senior Hamas activist in the Gaza Strip, made it clear that Hamas would never recognize Israel and the Mecca Agreement contained no change in the movement's policies (Reuters from the Gaza Strip, February 9).

C. Ismail Radwan , a Hamas spokesman, said that "the agreement reached in Mecca does not mean recognition of the Israeli entity." Hamas's firm stance, he said, was "non-recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist movement." He stated that the Hamas government's position on the issue was based on "the national reconciliation document" (i.e., the prisoners' document), which did not recognize "the Zionist entity" (Agence France-Presse, February 9).

D. Ahmad Yussuf , advisor to Abu Mazen, was asked about the Quartet's demand for recognition of Israel . He answered that Hamas did not recognize Israel and that the fundamental platform of the next government would not include recognition of Israel (Al-Jazeera TV, February 10).

4. Although the Mecca Agreement essentially does not fulfill the basic demands of the Quartet, those who signed it expect that a massive propaganda campaign , supported by Saudi Arabia , will make it possible to market the Agreement to the international community :

A. Abu Mazen told Al-Hayat that they expected "the new government will receive international recognition to pave the way for the end of the siege," and added, "a great effort is demanded of Palestinians and Arabs to make the international community accept the Mecca Agreement." (Al-Hayat, February 10). Fatah's information committee issued a release stating that Abu Mazen had sent a circular to Palestinian representatives all over the world saying that "we will initiate a broad political campaign to remove the siege our people and the Palestinian Authority are subject to."

B. Ghazi Hamad , Hamas government spokesman said the following about the effort to market the Agreement: " We have agreed with the Saudis to market this agreement internationally . Our [Saudi] brothers are in constant contact with the Americans and Europeans and I believe there is a possibility to market this agreement" (Reuters from Mecca , February 9).

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Dan Margalit
Maariv, February 13th, 2007

[Late in March, 2006, just before the Israeli elections, I accompanied my son to the bus which would take him to IDF basic training. En route, on Jaffa Road, I met Amir Peretz campaigning and asked him about his program for Israeli security. He took my hand, held it tightly and said, with TV cameras filming, that he had no idea about any matter relating to Israeli security. Pressing him again, I asked about his stand about security threats to Israel. Peretz was adamant and screamed that there are Israeli generals in his party who know about security - not him. DB]

Ehud Olmert spoke truthfully when, by proxy of his aides, he accused Amir Peretz of having implicitly encouraged the rioting at the Western Wall plaza. The publication of his letter to the prime minister about delaying the work at the Mughrabi Gate was, in the prime minister's view, proof of the defense minister's reckless behavior, which was geared to win the Arab votes in the Labor Party primary in May

But what about following through? If that is the way Peretz is—and indeed he is—then what is Olmert waiting for? Why does he not oust him from the Defense Ministry? What is he waiting for? For another Intifada to erupt? And then Olmert won't understand why people say that he took a cynical course of action and that he preferred political convenience over the nation's welfare.

Let us remove all doubt: it was not Ehud Barak who was responsible for the Intifada, nor was it Ariel Sharon in his visit to the Temple Mount in 2000, and nor is it Peretz now. It is clear Palestinian incitement. This time too, when there isn't even a single Israeli Arab who genuinely suspects that the government wants to damage el-Aksa Mosque, and there isn't even a single minority leader who has the courage to tell his public that truth.

Peretz's motives are unacceptable, and Olmert needs to choose between empty prattle and a measure that is crucial to national security. He needs to oust Peretz. Not because of the content of his letter, but because he was indiscreet at even the most sensitive security meetings.

We are talking about a delusional defense minister. A defense minister who threatens to go to the attorney general against his own government instead of resigning from it when he finds its ways unacceptable. The farce will peak when Peretz petitions the High Court of Justice against the defense minister. He's capable of doing that.

Olmert bears more responsibility than Peretz because he did not heed Ehud Barak's warning that one day he was liable to wake up in the Middle East to find himself faced with a war, and to look to his side only to find Peretz there as his partner; he bears more responsibility because he has kept Peretz in his position, both because of an erroneous calculation and as a result of immoral considerations.

Erroneous? Because of the high probability that replacing Peretz with either Barak or Ami Ayalon will not cause the Labor Party to bolt from the coalition. There will be a bit of noise, and all of the ministers will happily remain in place with their Volvos but without Peretz. Is there absolute certainty that the Labor Party will remain in the coalition without Peretz? Of course not. In life one has to take reasonable risks. All the more so when the alternative options of the Likud and Binyamin Netanyahu are quite acceptable as well, and there are other coalition possibilities on the horizon.

Immoral? Because of a number of reasons. A government whose prime minister does not speak with his defense minister should be indicted—publicly, not criminally—for breach of trust. An ongoing situation in which Peretz chose to send a letter to Olmert by fax because they do not even discuss security-related issues with one another is not merely a iniquity and a sin. It is a national crime.

Not only because of the implied, unintentional support that Peretz gave to the Islamic Movement, but because in the current state of affairs it is impossible to choose a worthy candidate to serve as the director general of the Defense Ministry. Who would agree to be appointed for two weeks? For two months? David Ivri and Amos Yaron survived a number of various defense ministers. It is a position that requires continuity. No serious individual will tie his fate to that of Peretz.

Olmert cannot hope that the Winograd Committee will pull the chestnuts out of the fire for him. Because if the committee shows the integrity that is expected of it—and its members are capable of that—then he is going to emerge more beaten than Peretz. There is no other possibility.

It is true that Olmert needs to resign. Without an appointed investigative committee. Without the committee that he tried to form under Nahum Admoni. He failed in the war. Had he taken responsibility he would have swept out with him Peretz and Dan Halutz as well and would have saved the agonized security establishment half a year of deliberation. But reality is otherwise. In keeping with the rules of democracy, it is within his power to dismiss a minister but not the other way around. Therefore, as the lesser of all evils, he needs to act to bring about the essential parting from Peretz.

Tarrying on this issue is to add insult to injury. A decision to fire Peretz here and now will cast a wee bit of light in the governmental darkness and will give Olmert what he needed so in these past few months: credit.

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