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In the heart of Palestinian consensus*

In the heart of Palestinian consensus*
* ***
*By Danny Rubinstein*
*Forty years after the Six-Day War, the Palestinian attitude that has
become consolidated toward the State of Israel is quite clear: It is
possible and necessary to achieve an agreement for coexistence with
Israel on the basis of the 1967 borders. Israelis who think it is
possible to reach an accord with the Palestinians that includes
annexation of settlement blocs in the West Bank or leaves East Jerusalem
under Israeli jurisdiction are deluding themselves. In all the decades
that have passed since occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, not a
single Palestinian voice has been heard that agrees to less than that.
Of course, there have been those who demanded more, and even today some
want to destroy Israel entirely, but no Palestinian will agree to allow
Israel to annex even one meter beyond the boundaries of the Green Line.

If one can speak of any power to this Palestinian position, it stems
from the fact that it enjoys total public consensus. Aside from a few
isolated exceptions, all Palestinians adhere to one position that the
Palestinian state will be established within the 1967 borders and that
East Jerusalem will be its capital. Of course, it is possible to speak
about differences between the political approaches of the Hamas and
Fatah movements regarding profound ideological gaps: Hamas' leadership
is, under no circumstances, willing to recognize Israel, while Fatah is.
But this can be viewed as differences in principle that lack any
practical significance.

Fatah is ready for a peace agreement, while Hamas is ready only for a
long-term cease-fire. Should an issue be made of that? We have very
successful peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, although, practically
speaking, they are not much more than cease-fire agreements. And in
general, if there is absolute quiet within the borders of Israel and
Palestine, and that is called a cease-fire rather than peace, not a
single Israeli will complain. *
**      **

*We can ponder that in light of the major effort being made by
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and even more by Hamas
leader Khaled Meshal, to prove to the entire world that the Mecca
agreement for establishing a Palestinian unity government is a
historical turning point. Meshal, who is scheduled to arrive for a visit
to Moscow today, declared in Cairo at the end of the week that the Mecca
agreement is: "A message of peace to the entire region." He called on
the United States and Europe to recognize the existence of the new
Palestine that was born in Mecca, and spoke of a Palestinian state to be
established within the 1967 borders. When asked if that means
recognition of Israel, he was evasive. Although Meshal is about to visit
Tehran this week as well, the Palestinian leadership is talking about
Hamas coming closer to the Arab world, and about tensions and suspicions
between Hamas and Iran - all as a result of the Mecca agreement.

The Palestinian consensus regarding an agreement within the 1967 borders
is strongly reinforced by the Arab position in support of it. A
Spanish-Arab summit in which representatives of 19 Arab countries
participated took place in Madrid last weekend. The announcement that
emerged from there confirmed the decision of the Arab summit regarding
peace, normalization and the establishment of full relations between the
Arabs and Israel after Israel's withdrawal to the 1967 borders.
Apparently most of the Palestinian public believes this is possible. In
light of the Madrid announcement, a journalist from East Jerusalem said
that if there are 22 Arab embassies in West Jerusalem, he is certain
that the peace agreement will be stable.

What spoils the optimistic picture is the refugee problem and the right
of return. But this is a relatively minor problem relative to the
Israeli situation that has been created since 1967, which prevents us
from even thinking about a return to the Green Line in general, and to
Jerusalem in particular. *

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