A Balance of Interests

Reading Hamas

By Lara Friedman

Published April 29, 2012, issue of May 04, 2012.
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The Forward’s interview with Mousa Abu Marzook highlights some fundamental truths about peacemaking: You make peace with your enemies, not your friends; you make peace not to be nice, but because it is in your self-interest; real peace must reflect a balance of interests, not an imbalance of power, and security arrangements, not trust, will be the foundation of any peace treaty.

It isn’t news that some Palestinians may never give up their dream of reclaiming all of “historic Palestine.” And this isn’t an argument against an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty.

Israel doesn’t need Palestinians to embrace it. It needs a durable agreement establishing recognized international borders that preserve it as a Jewish state and a democracy. After that, some may still dream of Israel’s destruction, but they’ll have to give up acting on these views — or be thwarted by Israel, which will have the unchallengeable legitimacy of a sovereign state acting in self-defense. Some Israelis, too, may never relinquish the dream of Greater Israel, but with a peace agreement, they must relinquish efforts to realize this dream.

Abu Marzook’s words also underscore why Palestinian reconciliation is vital to achieving peace. A peace agreement negotiated in the context of Palestinian unity will be much harder for Hamas or any party to subsequently renege on, at least without appearing hypocritical in the eyes of its people. Likewise, his comments demonstrate why it is vital that an agreement leaves neither people feeling humiliated, and leaves both peoples so much better off that they will reject anyone seeking to undermine the new status quo.

Finally, the interview demonstrates why any Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement must include comprehensive security arrangements to ensure that no matter what might happen among the Palestinians or in the region, Israel’s security is protected. This is just common sense. Israeli security planning takes into account the possibility of a breakdown of the Jordan and Egypt peace treaties, and, so, too, must it take into account potential worst-case scenarios after an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

Lara Friedman is the director of policy and government relations at Americans for Peace Now.


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