Here's Time magazine's Karl Vick:
[W]hat if Abbas is holding still, and Hamas is moving closer to Abbas? That's what's been happening, from nearly all appearances, for the last two or three years, and everything coming out of the Cairo meeting points in the same direction. The head of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, and Abbas spoke for two hours, Abbas in the big chair, Meshaal on the couch with two others. Afterwards both met the cameras smiling. "There are no differences between us now," Abbas said. Mashaal went with: "We have opened a new page of partnership." And on whose terms? Hamas stands for resistance, its formal name being the Islamic Resistance Movement. But in the Gaza Strip where it governs, Hamas has largely enforced a truce with Israel since January 2009. And in Cairo it signed a paper committing itself to "popular resistance" against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. That's "popular" in contrast to "violent" or "military" resistance. We're talking marches here. Chanting and signs, not booby traps or suicide bombs.For the past three years, Abbas has gone from someone actively participating in negotiations to someone who adamantly refuses to even talk with Israel under identical circumstances that the PLO negotiated for fourteen years. He has furthermore made unilateral moves, such as his UN stunt, to avoid any possible compromise with Israel - and has bragged about his intransigence. He has upset the US and the EU with his refusal to negotiate.
"Every people has the right to fight against occupation in every way, with weapons or otherwise. But at the moment, we want to cooperate with the popular resistance," Meshaal told AFP. "We believe in armed resistance but popular resistance is a program which is common to all the factions."
So much for Abbas "standing still."
Now, as far as Hamas is concerned, let's look at what they have been saying and doing in just the past week or so.
From all evidence, Hamas sacked every member of its security forces that was not explicitly a Hamas member.
- Hamas reiterated that it will continue armed resistance against Israel.
- Hamas named a school in Gaza after a mass murderer.
- Hamas arrested four Fatah youth leaders, right after the "unity" meeting.
- Another Hamas leader again reiterated that armed resistance remains an option, forever.
- An analyst was quoted in Hamas' website as saying that Palestinian Arabs could never drop the option of armed resistance, because this right is (according to them) enshrined by the UN. Another emphasized that the current truce is simply to help strengthen Hamas and help Gaza recover, but it not a strategic option.
- Hamas' Gaza leaders expressed great skepticism about unity with Fatah, an initiative spearheaded by Hamas' Damascus leaders.
- And there is credible evidence that Hamas continues to import imported surface to air missiles into Gaza.
But Vick cannot be bothered to actually read Hamas websites in Arabic. No, if he can find an AFP interview in English, well, that must reflect the entire reality!
Hold on, though. Vick thinks he found a new piece of information!
Quite possibly biggest news out of Cairo was deep in the fine print: Efforts are under way to bring Hamas into the PLO, or Palestine Liberation Organization, the umbrella for all Palestinian factions. The PLO is the one "brand" that still resonates with ordinary Palestinians, and Hamas has wanted to join it since at least 2005. If Hamas finally gets in, the implications would appear to be immense. It would mean agreeing to the positions and agreements the PLO has already made. This includes recognizing Israel, and renouncing terror -- two things Hamas has never been willing to do. "Yes, when they are in they have to agree to the political program of the PLO," says Shaban. "This will take time." But should it occur, it would complete Hamas' move toward the center, and open the door to the international recognition craved by many in the organization.Only one problem. It will never happen without the PLO changing its current stated positions.
Hamas cannot and will not recognize Israel. It cannot and will not accept a Jewish state in any form whatsoever. Literally. Its entire charter is based on Israel's destruction, and if Hamas can be counted upon for anything, it is to remain true to its principles. They have been remarkably consistent in their stated positions since their inception. If Vick actually believes that Hamas is one bit closer to recognizing Israel than they were in 2005 or 1995, then he is an idiot who simply refuses to open his eyes.
I can see the PLO muddying the language of its recognition of Israel to accommodate Hamas. But it is absolutely inconceivable that Hamas would accept the current stated PLO position of recognizing Israel and officially being against terrorism (a position the PLO roundly ignored only a few short years ago anyway.)
Vick, like so many other journalists, cannot distinguish between reality and what he wants to believe. And then he feeds this misinformation into the minds of equally clueless decision makers who want to believe that peace is possible as much as Vick does, and who rely on clueless pundits like him to buy the myth of a flexible Palestinian Arab leadership (and, naturally, the intransigent Israelis - the only ones who have actually made real concessions for peace, multiple times, over decades of conflict.)
Hamas is not moderating, and it never will. Just as there were people who were convinced that Hamas had moderated during the 2005 elections, and that Hamas had moderated before Cast Lead, there will always be credulous and utterly incompetent analysts who believe that Hamas is becoming more peaceful now.
And no matter how many times these pundits are proven wrong, they will continue to push their hopes and dreams as if they are reality.