Former US President, Jimmy Carter, has met with the exiled leader of Hamas in Syria.
Hamas (the political party) won free and fair elections last year but Israel, the US and the EU refuse to deal with them and are actively seeking to undermine their control of the Gaza Strip which they have controlled since winning the election.
Carter has, of course, been criticised by Israel and the US for meeting with Hamas. Officially it’s because they consider Hamas to be a terrorist organisation (they don’t see the irony in supporting and financing Sinn Féin as the political wing of the IRA but refusing to deal with the Hamas political party as the political wing of the Hamas militant group) but it’s more likely to be what Hamas said to Carter that the don’t like because it now puts the ball firmly in Israel’s court, leaving them with no excuse for continuing their occupation.
According to Carter, the leader of Hamas has reiterated its position to accept an Israeli state within its original borders before it invaded Palestine and Jerusalem. Hamas says that it will leave in peace with Israel as a neighbour if the Palestinian people agree to it. They said that if Israel agrees to a mutual ceasefire and renunciation of violence in Gaza and West Bank then they will accept it. They have even offered to accept a ceasfire only in Gaza to get the ball rolling.
So Hamas, it appears, is offering an olive branch. Most Palestinians will agree to a ceasefire if it means they get their country back and stops the indiscriminate attacks by the Israeli military. They are giving Israel the opportunity to bring hostilities to an end without Israel having to make the first move and appear weak. Whether Israel takes this opportunity or not will prove, once and for all, whether they really want peace or if they intend to continue occupying Palestine until everyone has either been bombed or starved off their land and they can take the lot with the minimum of fuss.
I don’t really have any doubts as to what the answer will be but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt one last time.