Sunday, November 26, 2006

Khaled Meshaal - the mainstream media's peacemaker

AP's Ibrahim Barzak has an unusual spin on Khaled Meshaal, the political head of Hamas based in Damascus:
Word of the cease-fire came shortly after Hamas‘ Damascus-based supreme leader Khaled Mashaal held several days of talks in Cairo with Egyptian mediators and Palestinian officials said those talks played a role in speeding up the agreement.

Sounds like Hamas is starting to play realpolitik, just the way everyone expected them to, right?
The Christian Science Monitor mentions it too, explicitly saying that it signals good news, while swatting away a little detail added:
And for the first time this past weekend, Hamas's hard-line leadership in exile showed signs of moderation. Speaking at a Palestinian summit in Cairo, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal said Hamas would allow six months for talks with Israel on establishing a state in the West Bank and Gaza.

While Mr. Mashaal threatened a new Palestinian uprising if the talks fail, observers say it could signal a willingness by Islamic militants to part with ideology that negates the idea of a peace agreement with Israel.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency sees it slightly differently:
Khaled Meshaal, who was in Cairo over the weekend for talks on the fate of an Israeli soldier held hostage in the Gaza Strip, urged the West to engage Palestinians in statehood talks.

If the international community does not work to create a Palestinian state within six months, the Palestinian Authority will collapse, we will throw away the diplomatic folderol and we will declare a third intifada,” he told reporters.

So who's right? Well, let's go right to the source, and see what Al-Hayat says in Arabic (autotranslated):
The chairman of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, yesterday gave the international community six months to establish a fully sovereign Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and threatened a "third uprising and open conflict" if there was no response to this "national Palestinian request."

Mashaal said in a press conference in Cairo, "We give all of Europe ... six months to open a real political horizon. Now there is a historic opportunity for the (European) powers agree on the establishment of the Palestinian state within the 1967 borders."

Mashaal declared that if there was no advantage of this opportunity, "the Palestinian people will close all the political books and will be launched in the uprising and the third will open conflict. The open conflict and bring us victory... because Israel has required e internal and scarred. "
Of course, nowhere does he say that he would recognize Israel in any way, shape or form; just that the international community must create a Palestinian Arab state (starting with the 1967 borders) within six months or else he will escalate his killing of innocent women and children in Israel...and perhaps elsewhere.

Al-Jazeerah as well covered Meshaal's press conference straight, without the spin that the CSM and AP gave. The headline simply reads "Meshaal warns of 'third intifada' " (h/t Boker Tov Boulder) .

To think that the media looks at his clear threat against Israel and his explicit blackmail ("Give me everything I want or else") as a positive gesture just shows how much they are willing to overlook the obvious in order to fit terroristic threats into their pre-written script. (The AP did have another article that was somewhat clearer but it of course buried Meshaal's comments on the bottom of the story where it will be cut out from many of not most newspapers.)

UPDATE: Meshaal backed off...very slightly:
"I said six months, but do you want more than six months? Maybe we can take eight months or a year," Mashaal said, responding to a question from Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian Information Minister and a member of Fatah.

During the interview, the TV show telephoned Shaath who told Mashaal on-air that it was not logical for Palestinians to be talking about an intifada.

But Mashaal also warned: "If the door is sealed and the horizon is closed (for creating a Palestinian state) then we have to look for another choice. We will impose our will on the Zionist enemy and the international community."
Yes, this is the negotiating partner that the West is dreaming of.

Remember of course that it is Haniyeh that is the head of Hamas in the territories and that he and Meshaal have disagreed in the past. In other words, they can easily play the good cop/bad cop "my hands are tied" game to not make any concessions at all while appearing "flexible" to the hungry Western media.