Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Support for the Abbas Government – Has Hamas Achieved Their Goals?

When Mahmoud Abbas was elected chairman of the Palestinian Authority, I was extremely excited. Abbas represents, to my knowledge, the will of the people for an independent state, for freedom, and for a better life. I looked at the government and saw a real potential partner for peace, and felt that things were looking up in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, Israel saw Abbas as weak, and was unwilling to enter into meaningful negotiations. When Israel would not offer borders that were even remotely acceptable, they imposed their own borders with the creation of the wall. When Israel proposed rather shabby compensation for Palestine’s losses, Israel refused to provide any compensation. And on issues such as the return of prisoners of war, Israel wouldn’t even bother to negotiate.

When Hamas ran for control of Israel, they claimed publicly that they were doing it to provide a position of strength in bargaining with the Israelis. Israel and the world all claimed this was a farce, that Hamas had never believed in Israel’s right to exist, they are a terrorist organization, and they cannot be trusted. Yet, Palestinian friends all indicated they would vote for Hamas because the Abbas government appeared so weak in the negotiations with Israel. Israel had created the need for a Hamas government.

Today, there is mayhem in Palestine, and to some extent the mayhem has spilled over onto Israeli soil. Hamas controls Gaza while Abbas governs over the West Bank. Violence prevails in the West Bank, and a high degree of lawlessness as well. There is true economic hardship, and poverty is the rule rather than the exception. The past several months have seen the firing of missiles into Israel, and while Hamas may not be directly responsible for these missiles, they certainly are not doing anything to stop them.

So both the US and Israel is taking the obvious steps: they are supporting the Abbas government with hopes that the whole of Palestine will support them as well. Massive amounts of funds have been released to the Abbas government, helping to stave off the economic crisis seen by most Palestinians. Israel has removed 178 militants from its watch list in exchange for declarations of amnesty from these militants, allowing these people to live a free life again.

Israel is talking about the release of many prisoners from their jails, provided they don’t have Israeli blood on their hands. These are the people who supported the Palestinian cause, but never actually killed Israelis. Bush is now calling for a Middle East peace accord with all countries believing in a two state solution as well as the Abbas government. Israel is willing to sit down with these countries, even though many don’t recognize Israel’s right to exist. Plus, the US has offered $190 million in direct assistance to the Palestinian people.

Folks, don’t look now, but if all these promises were kept, and a peaceful agreement were reached under these terms, all of the goals Hamas claimed during the election will have been met. I won’t like how they achieved them, but I can’t help but realize that they have, in fact, achieved them, but presenting a position of strength to the Israeli government. I think the ends don’t justify the means, but then again, I am not living the life of a Palestinian, a hard life indeed.

Perhaps it’s time for me to recognize that, while I hate Hamas as an organization and their actions rooted in terror and hatred, they have served their people well, and continue to do so. I am told I cannot judge you until I have walked a mile in your shoes, and perhaps it’s time for me to state I cannot judge Hamas. Because in the end of the day, they may have accomplished what no Palestinian government has been able to accomplish: a free, independent Palestinian state.

Cartoon courtesy of cartoonstock.com

Posted by Scottage at 11:08 AM / | |