Cliff May
When President Obama said last month that "Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with Palestinians who do not recognize its right to exist," he was referring to Hamas. In its charter, Hamas calls Palestine an “Islamic endowment” and specifically rules out a peaceful solution to the conflict with Israel. Hamas describes itself as “one of the links in the Chain of Jihad.” It uses terrorism to achieve its goals -- which include the advance of Muslim power and the expansion of Muslim territory – and its spokesmen openly mourned the death of Osama bin Laden, calling him an “Arab holy warrior” who deserves to spend eternity with the “true believers and the martyrs.”

Nevertheless, Obama also made clear that he believes the “peace process” can and must move forward. If the Israelis cannot be expected to negotiate with Hamas, surely they can negotiate with Fatah, the other main Palestinian faction. Though now in the process of forming a coalition with Hamas, Fatah does recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Or does it? Azzam al-Ahmed is a member of the Fatah Central Committee. He is closely associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. And last week he was pretty clear in an interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm. “Fatah has never recognized Israel’s right to exist and will never do so,” he said.

So, by Obama’s own reasoning, there are now no Palestinian leaders with whom the Israelis can “be expected to negotiate.” And that, in turn, implies that what we call the “peace process,” which began with talks in Madrid 20 years ago, is now as dead as Monty Python’s parrot. That’s big news -- though few news outlets are treating it as such.

What they are reporting instead is that Israeli troops have been firing on Palestinian refugees along Israel’s border with Syria. The reality: Mobs from Syria – probably not including anyone who actually left his home during a war waged against Israel more than 60 years ago -- have been violating Israel’s borders, in some cases throwing firebombs. Israeli troops, following numerous warnings to the mobs to turn around, have used force to push them back. If there is a good alternative available, it doesn’t occur to me.

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.