Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hamas as Partner for Peace: Negotiations are a Two Way Street

About a week ago, I posted a message on the blog of a person named "Soccer Dad" citing recent steps by Hamas to become a beter partner for peace when they got elected. Today, I received an excellent response from Soccer Dad, noting his skepticism on a few of the points I raised:

I must take issue with one thing that you wrote:

the fact that they [Hamas] were only considered for candidacy in Palestine when they removed the passage in their charter that calls for the destruction of Israel.

When did this ever happen? If it did, I'd love to see documentation of the change but considering that Hamas spokesmen continuously say that their view of Israel hasn't changed I don't believe such an action has taken place. The PLO also has never changed their charter. (They've held two votes but never actually physically changed their charter.)

I disagree with the following too.

Palestine has to cater to the Palestinian people first, and the Muslim world second, before in considers catering to the will of the United States and Israel.

Palestinian leadership is primarily serving the interests of the Arab/Muslim world first as this 22 year old article by Daniel Pipes makes clear.

This is the response I wrote to Soccer Dad:

Actually, on January 12th of this year, Hamas did drop the section in their charter which calls for the destruction of Israel, as you can read here.

Don’t get me wrong, the group still believes in armed struggle, and in the killing of Israelis. As an Israeli American, this is deplorable, and I consider Hamas to be a mortal enemy. But if I am to fairly analyze the situation in the region, I think it is essential to recognize the positive steps made by terrorist groups like Hamas as well as the horrible steps.

It should also be noted that two days after this announcement was made, Israel targeted the two leaders of Hamas in a targeted assassination, exhibiting how willing Israel was to work with the group. A day later Bush backed the Israeli air strike and again called for Hamas to renounce terror.

I am the biggest Zionist you may find, and I gave a part of my life over to help preserve the state of Israel. But I recognize that at times we need to take a step back, and remember that there are two sides to any conflict. In this situation (perhaps only in this situation) Hamas extended an olive branch to Israel and the Western world, but Israel and the US slapped it away.

It is for this reason, amongst others, that I believe that Hamas needs to look to the approval of their own people, the Palestinians, and to the Muslim world for approval first. As long as Israel and the US continue to deny any positive overtures made by Hamas, they have no choice but to move the opposite direction, to placate their constituency.

When Israel refused to pay the Palestinians monies owed to them this month, indicating that they feared Hamas would use the money for terrorism, did the US help? No, Hamas had to turn to other Arab nations for the aid needed by the Palestinian people for survival. When they won the election, did Hamas receive even congratulations or any overtures from Israel and the US? No, they only received rebukes for past actions as opposed to wishes for a better future.

The United States needs to recognize that every country will not do what we want just because we’re a super power. We (including I) may not like the fact that Hamas is in power in Palestine, but that is not our call. We need to work with the acting government of the Palestinian people as best we can. And until we do, we should expect that Hamas will look for support and acceptance where ever it can find it.

I don't know where negotiations with Hamas will take us, if they will take us anywhere. But I do not peace will never be achieved by bemoaning the ways of Hamas and refusing to speak with them. They represent the duly elected government of Palestine, and as such it is in the best interest of Israel, the US, and other Western nations to begin to work with this government.

Posted by Scottage at 10:38 AM / | |