Latest Bible Prophecy Commentary
Israel Freezes Large Palestinian Tax Transfer; Why This Could Be A Major Stumbling Block For A Forced Palestinian State
Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar said on Wednesday that Palestine is "hallowed ground" and that his organization will never recognize Israel.
Zahar added that this should not prevent Israel from negotiating with Hamas, pointing out that Israel negotiated for captive soldier Gilad Schalit's release despite the fact that Hamas never recognized "the Israeli enemy."
Talks are a means, but recognition is a matter of principle," Zahar told Al Jazeera.
Senior Fatah Central Committee member and PA negotiator Nabil Shaath said in an interview with Israel Radio Wednesday that Hamas should not be asked to recognize Israel.
Russia and "many others agree with us that the old rules of the quartet were not logical, and are not workable," Shaath said. "They have no place" in the current formula anymore, he added, "Stop asking Hamas."To make his point, the Fatah official asked whether Israel would be ready to recognize Hamas.
Regarding continued security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Shaath said, "I would like to see the two governments continue the relationships necessary to run the country," adding that PA security forces would continue to prevent violence against Israel.
Also speaking with Israel Radio, Hamas Deputy Foreign Minister in Gaza Razi Hamed said that Hamas wants peace, but that "the occupation is the root of all [the Palestinians'] problems." He added that Hamas is willing to accept a Palestinian state within pre-1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital.
However, he said, in order for peace to take place, Palestinian refugees must be allowed to "return to their homes" in Israel.
More important than anything, Hamed said, is unity between Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank (Jpost.com).
Israel is not likely to recognize Hamas anymore than Hamas is likely to recognize Israel. With that said, it is unlikely the international community is concerned as to whether Hamas is willing to recognize Israel. That is one old school rule that Israel would like to hang onto as a criteria for continuing talks, but with Hamas now in the peace picture, I see it as a distance memory.
Hamas and Fatah are threatening to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders, but even they realize it would be much better for them to create the state through negotiations. One, at this time, the US donates almost $400 million annually to the PA. That may end if the US does not buy into the Hamas-Fatah newly formed partnership. US funding is based on the terms that all parts of the PA must renounce all forms of terrorism and cannot include a terrorist organization. Two, Israel collects around $1.2 billion annually in taxes for the PA. These tax dollars constitutes some 70% of the Palestinian budget. At this time, due to the inclusion of Hamas in the PA government, Israel has frozen all transfer of future funds.
The elimination of either of these revenue streams would at the very least place the PA in a severe financial bind. Even if they are successful in persuading the UN to recognize a Palestinian state, Israel would be Palestine's leading source of incoming, and I have to believe they would continue the freeze. The international community would have to step forward and make up the difference in order for Palestine to remain solvent.
It's unlikely that world opinion would allow either the US or Israel to withhold critical funding of a Palestinian state. I doubt the Obama administration is in any hurry to dissolve any chance of the dream of bringing peace to the Middle East through the creation of a Palestinian state.
This leads us to a dilemma of compromise. The PA may attempt to force a Palestinian state on Israel through UN recognition, but financing it maybe another thing.
Due to PA reliance on Israeli tax collection and US funding, it will be interesting to see how UN recognition changes the facts on the ground. This is why the sudden inclusion of Hamas into the PA government is so perplexing to many. At this time, there seems to be no real and tangible upside for the PA in this move. That's why a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians makes the most sense.
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