Friday, May 6, 2011

Superb Short Piece by Aaron David Miller on Hamas Fatah Accords

Circus of the Dancing Bears

Aaron David Miller Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Foreign Policy

The late Yitzhak Rabin used to say that the only problem with dancing with a bear is that once you start, you can never let go.

Watching the current Hamas-Fatah unity circus, I can't help but think of Rabin's comment. For the former Israeli prime minister, Yasir Arafat was the bear and the Oslo process was their choreographed dance. Rabin was no sentimentalist and he recognized Arafat's many weaknesses as a partner, but he continued to engage with him because he believed his counterpart had taken tough positions. Oslo was a good faith effort to achieve a goal.

The Hamas-Fatah unity gambit signed on Wednesday in Cairo isn't about good faith, consequential agreements, nor is it about peacemaking. The forging of Palestinian unity is a product of narrower calculations of two key parties -- Fatah and Hamas -- who are looking for a way to improve their respective positions during a very turbulent and uncertain period. This is an instance of two bears dancing with one another. Israel is right to be wary...

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