Guest Post: Who is the Bigger Belligerent?

Could you tell the difference between Likud and Hamas?

Common to the theme of peace negotiations in Israel/Palestine is the ideas of mutual recognition of peoples and ending the state of belligerency by moderating tones. This was done in 1988 and 1994 between the PLO and Israel under the DOP and Oslo. One of the main arguments Israel uses against including Hamas in negotiations, although they have numerous times expressed a desire, is the issue of the Hamas charter. The reason this charter is so controversial to Israelis is more than the document being antisemitic (a convenient term considering Palestinians are Semitic people), it is also that it lays claim to all the land of historic Palestine. This means Hamas sees Palestine as including present day Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. This is typically used as proof they are not ready to make peace and be taken seriously as a credible partner for a said peace. If Hamas cannot recognize Israel then why should it be allowed in negotiations?

This is amusing to me particularly while researching for another paper on settlements when I came across the Likud party charter. The Likud has been the ruling party, directly or indirectly, for most of the past 44 years. Main tenets of the Likud charter include:

“The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting,”


“The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel’s existence, security and national needs.”


[tweetmeme] “Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem, including the plan to divide the city presented to the Knesset by the Arab factions and supported by many members of Labor and Meretz. The government firmly rejects attempts of various sources in the world, some anti-Semitic in origin, to question Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital, and the 3,000-year-old special connection between the Jewish people and its capital. To ensure this, the government will continue the firm policies it has adopted until now”

No diplomatic activity will be permitted at Orient House. The government stopped the stream of visits by heads of state and ministers at Orient House, begun under the left-wing government.

The presence of the Israeli police in eastern Jerusalem will be increased. This in addition to the new police posts and reinforcements in the neighborhoods.

The Likud government will act with vigor to continue Jewish habitation and strengthen Israeli sovereignty in the eastern parts of the city, while emphasizing improvements in the welfare and security of the Arab residents. Despite protests from the left, the Likud government consistently approved the continuation of Jewish living within the Old City and in ‘City of David’.

The Jordan River as a Permanent Border

The Jordan Valley and the territories that dominate it shall be under Israeli sovereignty. The Jordan river will be the permanent eastern border of the State of Israel. The Kingdom of Jordan is a desirable partner in the permanent status arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians in matters that will be agreed upon.”

Considering the similarities between the two charters, why is it that only Hamas has to agree to define possible borders being near 1967 borders? Why doesn’t the Likud have to adapt their international law-breaking charter before it can be considered legitimate as well? It seems more of a power game than an ideological question that is involved here. Simply Israel is the stronger party, wants to exert its force, and use it to gain as much as possible without having to reciprocate this same “generosity” to the other side. How convenient.

By Chris Whitman

[Chris note: Part of the reason why Hamas is considered as an outcast and Likud is not is, as the other Chris mentions above, because the negotiations favor the powerful. Put another way, Israel, as the dominant party (with unlimited US support) is able to drive the agenda. Likud is accepted in Israel as being a legitimate party (note that Likud is to the left politically of many Israeli parties) and is thus legitimate in the eyes of the world. The Kach Party, which was outlawed in 1994 in Israel would clearly be barred from joining talks. The Kach party favored paying Arabs to leave Palestine, expelling those who refused and the complete annexation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Likud charter calls for the annexation of the same pieces of territory and, while not explicitly calling for forced population transfer (as Kach and his coalition partner Lieberman has), but it does explicitly reject the premise of a Palestinian state. While there are fundamental differences between Kach and Likud (Kach desires a religious state, for example) the two parties share many of the same positions, namely, the rejection of a Palestinian state. Legitimacy within Israel is the only reason one is allowed to lead the government and the other is not.

To Netanyahu’s credit, he has come out against the Likud charter and suggested parameters for a Palestinian state. Although, so has Hamas]

Photo from WN

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