Sderot's Qassam Museum

There is a museum in Sderot, Israel. It only displays one type of object: the Qassam rockets that Palestinians have fired into Israel. There are thousands of them.

The Oslo Accords, officially called the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, were a milestone in the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict, one of the major continuing issues within the wider Arab-Israeli conflict. It was the first direct, face-to-face agreement between the government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). It was intended to be the sole framework for future negotiations and relations between the Israeli government and Palestinians, within which all outstanding "final status issues" between the two sides would be addressed and resolved.

Negotiations concerning the Oslo Accords were conducted secretly in Oslo, Norway, and completed on August 20, 1993. The Accords were subsequently officially signed at a public ceremony in Washington, DC on September 13, 1993, in the presence of PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and US President Bill Clinton.

There were two key elements that are fundamental to the Accords and without which there is no basis for any negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Along with the principles, the Israeli's and the PLO signed Letters of Mutual Recognition - the Israeli government recognized the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, while the PLO recognized the right of the state of Israel to exist and renounced terrorism as well as other violence, and its desire for the destruction of the Israeli state.

On August 23, 2005, four West Bank Israeli settlements were evacuated and left to the Palestinians. On September 12, 2005, Israel entirely withdrew all civilians and military from the Gaza Strip. In June 2006 Hamas, won a majority of seats in Palestinian parliamentary elections, defeating its rival Fatah party. The PLO, Fatah and Hamas are three seperate organizations, with the latter two being political parties, much as the United States has a separate existence apart from the Democratic and Republican parties.

Since June, 2007 Hamas has governed Gaza, and is directly responsible for firing all those Qassam rockets into Israel. The Charter of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which was adopted in 1964, specifically states that Israel has no right to exist and calls for armed conflict to remove any trace of Israel. Hamas' 1988 charter calls for replacing the State of Israel with a Palestinian Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. Hamas does not recognize the right of Israel to exist. This is by no means a minority view among Palestinians. Hamas is supported by Iran and Syria. The European Union, the United States, Canada, Israel and Japan classify Hamas as a terrorist organization.

In April, 2011 Fatah and Hamas announced a reconciliation. They have agreed to form an interim government and fix a date for elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip sometime in 2012. The Palestinians and Israel have had on-again/off-again peace talks for decades. Up until now, Hamas has not been invited to the talks. Hamas has not been invited because the Oslo Accords say that the PLO is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Discussing matters of state with Hamas would be a violation of those Accords, as that right resides solely with the PLO.

The Palestinians could have had peace with Israel any time they wanted to in the past 63-years since the founding of Israel. They could have had the 1967 borders which they are now clamoring for at any time between 1948 and 1967.

Both the Israelis and the Palestinians are pragmatic. Neither side believes the peace negotiations will lead to anything. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel nor drop its demands that Israel pack up and leave. There is no common ground for any peace negotiations. The Palestinians do not want peace, they want it all.


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