Hamas Waxes Stronger; Israel Will Pay the Price


Hamas Waxes Stronger; Israel Will Pay the Price

For Israel, the potential emergence of Hamas as a part of the Palestinian government should herald the futility of its land-for-peace policy.

To borrow a phrase from journalist Simon Jenkins, while Ariel Sharon wanted his land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians to look like Wellington’s Waterloo, the reality is that it is looking like a Dunkirk—an abject failure to win the battle for peace.

Following a week that saw Hamas sweep municipal elections in the strategic West Bank towns of Nablus, Jenin and al-Bireh, while the ruling Fatah faltered and divided, Israel’s road to peace looks like it could include negotiations with terrorists.

For Hamas—which has worked hard to cultivate a humanitarian image by providing community services for the beleaguered Palestinians—bullets-for-Israel rhetoric has proved popular at the polls. The Christian Science Monitor mused, “Although public opinion surveys show support for Hamas to range between one fourth and one third of the Palestinian public, analysts say that 40 percent of the legislature is a realistic goal for the Islamists, and some believe that a majority could be within reach” (December 19). Polls anticipating the January 25 election show strong support for Hamas in former Fatah stomping grounds.

And whatever power there was two weeks ago to handcuff the growing power of Hamas was obliterated with the split of Fatah. Late last week, Fatah—the party of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas—divided into two rival camps. With more than a quarter of the population unemployed and half of all Palestinians living below the poverty line, Abbas has been seen as ineffective. Marwan Barghouti, the imprisoned leader of the Fatah dissenters, met with Abbas late last week, but the two were unable to resolve their differences. Barghouti and his supporters want a greater share of power. Barghouti decided to cleave his supporters from Fatah in order to form a new party and run on a separate ticket.

Europe and Washington are nervous with these two events. Had Fatah not split, Abbas would be better positioned to hold back Hamas; instead he is a lame duck. Europe and the United States are now preparing for the potential of Hamas winning a substantial number of seats in the 132-seat legislature.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana opened the door to Hamas by saying, “All the political parties have the right to be part of the elections, but there is a certain code of conduct that has to be accepted by everybody” (Associated Press, December 18).

Solana told reporters it would be “very difficult” to cooperate with “parties who do not condemn violence” (ibid.). Notice that Solana did not say the EU would not deal with Hamas. He said it would be “very difficult” to do so.

U.S. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack also took a conciliatory stance by saying that the U.S. would not be “helping any particular party.” The Jerusalem Post reported, “The Bush administration believes that in principle Hamas should not take part in the democratic process before it has disarmed and declared its recognition of Israel’s right to exist. On the practical level, though, the administration is not demanding any action …” (December 18).

For its part, Hamas is trying to mollify Western concerns about its intentions toward Israel. The Islamic Republic News Agency wrote that Hamas “has expressed willingness to enter into a constructive dialogue with the European Union and the United States to clear ‘misunderstandings and contentious issues,’” indicating that it will be more open to the outside world “once it becomes part of the Palestinian political system” (December 18).

So for Hamas, what may stand in the way of Europe and the U.S. legitimizing its inclusion in the Palestinian government is a simple act of contrition. Incredibly, Europe and the U.S. appear willing to offer absolution.

That act of contrition shouldn’t be too difficult for Hamas, considering the ruling Fatah has long played that charade with great success. On one hand the Palestinians promise peace, while on the other they deliver state-sponsored bloodshed. Even today, despite Palestinian promises, the insurgency grows in the Gaza Strip.

Just a few months after Israel ceded the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians, Middle East Newsline reports that the Palestinian Authority has now converted abandoned Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip into training camps for Palestinian security forces and insurgency groups, including members from the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Abu Rish Brigades (December 12).

It is not difficult to envision Hamas making similar disingenuous promises in order to gain legitimacy.

Even its current ceasefire, which it is actually threatening to end, is itself farcical. Not only is Hamas using the downtime to regroup and re-arm, the Israeli military has discovered that it is supplying other terrorist organizations such as Islamic Jihad with enhanced missiles for attacks against Israel. “Formally, Hamas has pledged to honor a ceasefire arranged by the Palestinian Authority,” a military source said. “So, rather than fire the Kassams themselves, they give them to their terrorist allies.”

Israel, for obvious reasons, is not too smitten with the idea of Hamas gaining a foothold in the peace process. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mark Regev said, “If Hamas ever succeeded in dominating the Palestinian Authority that would be the end of the peace process.” That is tough talk from an administration that just walked away from the Gaza Strip.

The fact is that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gave the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians because he wanted to bring security to his own population. The pressure on the Israeli prime minister to bring peace to the homeland is intense; Sharon wants to be the man to do it. Sharon’s move to sideline roadblocks like his former Likud party by forming a centrist party, which is drawing politicians that support land-for-peace concessions, points to this reality. Sharon has already shown his willingness, despite vociferous opposition, to make concessions to the Palestinians in return for empty promises.

To be sure, the stakes are high. Without a ban on Hamas—which, if Abbas were bold enough to do it, would see the Palestinian areas turned into violent civil war zones—this terrorist group looks like it will find itself a part of the governing Palestinian Authority. And because the Palestinian Authority is the only instrument that Israel, the U.S. and Europe have to manage the political turmoil in the Palestinian territories, Hamas is likely to become a “legitimate” player in the future of Israeli-Palestinian peace arrangements.

Watch for Sharon and his Kadima party to give away even more land to the Palestinians.

Israel should learn that the hallmark of the peace process—land concessions—is a bleeding wound. As Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has stated, the peace process is “Judah’s wound” (Hosea 5:13). This wound will weaken Israel to the point that it will lose half of Jerusalem and then be overtaken by foreign armies.

If Israel cannot learn that every instance of its blind faith has been repaid by violence and greater militarism by terrorists, it will end up giving away every piece of strategic land it has. Instead of peace, Israel can count on more bloodshed.