The man who leads the Hamas-controlled Palestinian administration in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, has given a press conference. The words he used are worth repeating.
He told journalists: “We accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the resolution of the issue of refugees.
Haniyeh said that a priority of his government was to avoid a military escalation with Israel by persuading other militant factions to preserve a de facto ceasefire.”
Now here is an opportunity, is it not? You can’t make peace without talking to your enemies, and here is one of Israel’s enemies talking in terms that should delight European governments. Anyone seriously interested in securing a just settlement in the Middle East would surely be beating a path to Haniyeh’s door, but it won’t happen. Hamas will stay on the list of terrorist organisations because Israel (and therefore the USA) would be upset if we tried to remove it.
I met with Haniyeh in Gaza in 2007, when he was Prime Minister of the short-lived Unity Government. He spoke then words not of terrorism but of diplomacy, but when the message was communicated no-one in London or Brussels took any notice.