• The first thing Hamas would do after winning the election is cancel all the "treacherous" agreements that were signed by Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO.

There are several reasons why the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks need to be postponed until further notice.

The first reason is the plan to hold new presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories sometime in the near future.

What would happen if Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed a peace treaty with Israel today and, a few months from now, Hamas is elected to lead the Palestinians?

The first thing that a new Hamas government or parliament would do is cancel all the "treacherous" agreements that were signed by Abbas and the PLO.

Hamas's chances of scoring another electoral victory have increased significantly thanks to the "Arab Spring" that has seen the rise of Islamists to power in a number of Arab countries.

Then it would be too late to prevent Hamas from extending its control to large parts of the West Bank and possibly certain areas in Jerusalem that are handed over to the Palestinian Authority.

Hence any peace agreement that is signed today between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will become meaningless once Hamas takes control after the planned elections.

Hamas leaders have in recent days reiterated their fierce opposition to any peace deal with Israel, saying they will never recognize Israel's right to exist except as another Arab and Muslim state.

They have also made it clear that the proposed unity government would not honor previous agreements signed between Israel and the PLO, above all the Oslo Accords.

When and if such elections take place, there is no guarantee that Hamas would not again win the support of a majority of Palestinians.

Abbas, for his part, has been trying to reassure world leaders that a unity government headed by him would abide by all the agreements with Israel and would recognize its right to exist -- but not as a Jewish state.

Another reason it would be advisable to put the peace talks on hold for now centers around the question of whether Abbas really has a mandate from his people to strike a deal with Israel, particularly one that includes territorial concessions.

Abbas's term in office expired in January 2009: many Palestinians therefore believe he does not have a mandate to pursue his political platform.

The feeling among many Palestinians is that Abbas and a small number of his aides in the West Bank are convinced that they have a monopoly over the decision-making process in the Palestinian arena.

For the past few years, they had been negotiating with Israel about lands, Jerusalem, settlements, security and refugees -- without consulting other Palestinians.

The Palestinian parliament has been paralyzed since 2007 due to the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas; there has therefore been no open debate about the future of the peace process with Israel. The only people with whom Abbas and his aides consult are their loyalists in Fatah and the PLO.

Abbas went all the way to New York last September to ask for a Palestinian state at a time when he cannot even visit his private house in the Gaza Strip. He asked the UN for a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem -- ignoring the fact that millions of Palestinian refugees are demanding to return to their original villages inside Israel.

Many Palestinian are opposed to Abbas's statehood bid at the UN because they do not want a state only in the territories that were captured by Israel in 1967. They want all of Palestine -- from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea; in other words, no less than 100% of the land on which Israel now sits, or they will regard themselves as traitors and collaborators.

Only new elections or a referendum will tell whether a majority of Palestinians support Abbas's willingness either to make concessions to Israel or to back Hamas's efforts to replace Israel with an Iranian-backed Islamic Emirate. That is why there is no for point in anyone to pursue peace talks with the Palestinian Authority at this stage.

  • Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter

© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Recent Articles by
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free gatestone institute mailing list.


Comment on this item

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Gatestone Institute greatly appreciates your comments. The editors reserve the right, however, not to publish comments containing: incitement to violence, profanity, or any broad-brush slurring of any race, ethnic group or religion. Gatestone also reserves the right to edit comments for length, clarity and grammar. All thoughtful suggestions and analyses will be gratefully considered. Commenters' email addresses will not be displayed publicly. Gatestone regrets that, because of the increasingly great volume of traffic, we are not able to publish them all.