By Danny Rubinstein
"Most of the Palestinian public is not demanding that Hamas recognize Israel. This, at least, is what a reliable survey conducted in the territories indicates. The explanation for this is expressed by Hamas spokesmen in every corner, from Rafah to Jenin, and is very accepted in the territories: Look, Yasser Arafat and the PLO recognized the State of Israel in the Oslo agreement and what did they gain from that? Only suffering and misfortune.
The economic siege on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the targeted killings, the raids and checkpoints can be explained as an Israeli defense against terror attacks. But how can one explain the doubling of the number of settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem since the Madrid conference and Oslo agreement? Since the 1996 elections in Israel, and almost through the end of Ehud Barak's government, there was quite a long period of quiet on the security front. There were almost no terror attacks. During that period, as before, the great momentum of settlement continued. The population of settlers grew from 100,000 to over 200,000 during the 1990s.
When the Israelis build large new neighborhoods in East Jerusalem (Har Homa and Reches Shlomo), expand the neighborhoods and settlements in the Muslim part of the Old City, in Silwan, Ras al-Amud and Sheikh Jarrah, expel Arabs from the city and surround them with tens of thousands of Jewish settlers in a tight belt from Upper Beitar in the south, via Ma'ale Adumim in the east and Givat Ze'ev in the north - this conveys a clear message: There is no chance that the capital of the Palestinian state will be established anywhere in Jerusalem. If you add to this the growth of settlements in Samaria, Ariel, the suburbs of Ramallah, in an expanded Gush Etzion and Mount Hebron, the Israeli message becomes unequivocal: You Palestinians have no chance. You recognized Israel and what you received in return was the liquidation of your national hopes. So why should Hamas repeat the same recognition whose results we have already seen?"