Israeli and Palestinian aid: Fair is fair

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced March 12 that any Palestinian unity government formed between the Islamic Hamas party and secular Fatah party must meet the expectations of the “Road Map” Quartet, including recognizing Israel’s right to exist and renouncing violence, in order to receive the $900 million pledged by the United States. That seems fair.

I feel that recognition of Israel’s right to exist and renunciation of violence are necessary if the Palestinians are serious about finding a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict. The last Fatah-Hamas unity government in 2007 was not accepted by the United States or the European Union because Hamas’ charter did not accept an Israeli state and also because it maintained that Hamas has a duty to use force in its resistance of the “Zionist occupation.” Should Hamas, as a member of a Palestinian unity government, revise its charter, renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist? Yes, that seems fair.

I wonder, however, why this is not required of the Israeli government. The Israeli government receives more than $3 billion from the U.S. every year. Should not the stipulations placed on Palestinian aid be placed equally on Israeli aid? Is that not fair?

Though the governing coalition has not been finalized following Israel’s parliamentary elections last month, Labour and Kadima have rejected the offer to join the coalition of Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu. This means that in order to reach the 61 seat majority necessary to effectively govern, Netanyahu will need to create a coalition comprised entirely of right-wing parties, most of which are either skeptical of, or outright opposed to, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state (an expectation of the “Road Map” Quartet).

Most of these parties also advocate the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which is not only against the Quartet “Road Map,” but also considered by almost the entire international community to be illegal according to international law, specifically the Geneva Convention of 1949.

Likud, Netanyahu’s party, states in its charter that: a) It is against the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state; b) It will continue to strengthen and develop West Bank settlements and prevent their uprooting; and c) The Jordan River will be the permanent eastern border for the State of Israel (which means the State of Israel will include all of the West Bank).

Last month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on the international community to refuse to cooperate with an Israeli government that expands settlements and opposes the creation of a Palestinian state, just as it refused to cooperate with the former Palestinian government because Hamas did not meet Quartet conditions. I believe this is fair.

The same logic and expectations applied to Hamas should be applied to the Israeli parties that comprise the new coalition government. Not only should the new Israeli government be required to recognize the right of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state to exist, but it should stop the expansion of West Bank settlements. Additionally, the charters of each party should be revised to include these expectations. This is what is required of Hamas and the Palestinian government; therefore, this should be required of the Israeli parties and governing coalition. Fair is fair.

Thomas J. Banyas is a senior political science and international relations major and guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.