You can go to an anti-Israel meeting at any time of the day in London but it is hard to find an obective one that is critical of both sides; Israelis and Palestinians.
So to hear to Khaled Abu Toameh speak at SOAS was a real treat. Khaled is the Jerusalem Post’s West Bank correspondent. He is an Israeli Arab living in Jerusalem. He lives and breathes the conflict. He spoke of the uselessness and corruption of the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) and the hatefullness of Hamas. He wished that they could both be representative of the Palestinian people and want the best for them instead of both wanting to grab power for their own sakes.
He mentioned how Fatah received $6.5bn at the start of the Oslo process in 1993 and what did Arafat do with it apart from build a casino and pay his wife $100, 000 per month to live in style on Paris.
Toameh recognises that Netanyahu has no partner for peace. Even if settlement building stops, so what? Hamas and Fatah purely despise each other. If Israel ever pulls out of the West Bank Mahmoud Abbas will be hanged immediately due to the huge support of Hamas in the West Bank.
And as for Israel, it should talk to everyone, including Hamas. Even if Israel has to talk to the devil it should talk! So what of Hamas doesn’t recognise Israel? Israel doesn’t recognise Hamas either.
But Israel should make good on its Arab citizens. The situation is improving with Arabs at the head of medical industries and in the foreign ministry but there is room for improvement. That said, no Israel Arabs would ever wish to move to another Arab state.
The saddest thing covered is the fate of Gaza. If Abbas ever approached it he would be hanged at the Erez Crossing before getting into Gaza. Gaza is now run by Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and possibly, but not yet proven, Al Qaeda.
He knows that all those who call Israel an apartheid state are doing no one any good. He knows it isn’t an apartheid state. People who make accusations like that and speak of an Israel or Jewish lobby are just up to no good. It is a shame these people can’t do something positive.
The other interesting question he asked is who is Marwan Barghouti. He has no idea how this guy became a Nelson Mandela figure. There are 10, 000 Palestinian prisoners so why pick someone who headed the Fatah list when they lost the 2006 election to Hamas? Plus the fact he is being feted by Israel and the Americans makes him totally distrusted by the majority of Palestinians.