sharon walks 298 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel rejects Hamas's participation in the upcoming Palestinian Authority elections, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the cabinet Sunday, just three days after Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Israel would not interfere with the elections.
"It is inconceivable that an armed group, with a covenant full of hatred, can participate in the elections. This situation necessitates a discussion on the steps that can be taken, and we will have such a discussion in the security cabinet," Sharon said.
He said that Israel's position was that it could not cooperate with the PA on the elections if Hamas, as currently constituted, took part.
Sharon also said that the election would not prove that the PA was democratic. "There is no connection between elections in the Palestinian Authority and democracy," he said.
Sharon's comments followed Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's call in the cabinet to take a unified hard line against Hamas participation in the elections.
Although he didn't mention him by name, Shalom's comments were directed at Mofaz. In what was widely interpreted as an about-face in Israeli policy, Mofaz had told US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington Thursday that Israel would not interfere in the PA elections. Mofaz, who has not yet returned from Washington, was not at the cabinet meeting.
Shalom said that it was unreasonable to expect that Israel would change its policy regarding Hamas just because the terrorist organization was involved in an election. He said that Israel's policy toward Hamas needed to remain as it is now, regardless of the elections.
"There will be no easing of conditions which will allow terrorist organizations to cynically exploit the election process," he said.
Senior diplomatic officials told The Jerusalem Post last week that Israel would not stop arresting or pursuing Hamas activists simply because they were, for example, on their way to attend an election rally.
Shalom said that allowing Hamas to take part in the election was likely to give the organization legitimacy, which would be dangerous - not only for Israel, but also for the PA, because Hamas would then use that legitimacy to topple the PA.
"Hamas has no future in this region," Shalom said.
Shalom pointed to the situation in Lebanon, where Hizbullah's involvement in the political process - it has one minister in the current government - has made Israel's attempt to isolate it more difficult.
Any legitimization given to Hamas now will be that much harder to remove in the future, he said. "The Hizbullah precedent in Lebanon shows that incorporating an armed terrorist organization in the elections brought about neither its disarmament nor the cessation of its military actions; rather, a fortification of its position and strengthening of its negative influence," he said.
Shalom said that Israel should not cooperate at all with the PA in helping it carry out the election on January 25 if Hamas participated.
During the discussion, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni pointed out that Europe has banned terrorist organizations there from taking part in their elections.
Send us your comments >>
Pius Adebayo, Lagos, Nigeria:
As I have complained countless times, I am really surprised that Israel can be so lenient with terrorists. I do not understand why Ariel Sharon with all the government apparatus and power at his hands has refused to liquidate and eliminate this evil called Hamas.
Terrorist organisations such as Hamas should not ever be allowed to take part in a democratic process such as an election. Remember what happened in Lebanon with Hizbullah. LONG LIVE ISRAEL.
Vic F. M. Kappes, Bloomfield Hills, MI, USA:
Let me see if I understand this situation: Israel decides who may or may not participate in an election, based on what? The way the candidates dress? or comb their hair? or what they say during an election campaign? Why not just name the candidates in Palestinian elections and decide who "wins." Then follow this "democratic" process up with predetermined votes in a Palestinian legislature.
Didn't the Soviet Union
use a similar approach in the very recent past? Where does Israel get off these days? Should the European Union decide who participates in Israeli elections?
Maybe they should since what is good for the goose is good for the gander...
"Let me see if I understand this situation: Israel decides who may or may not participate in an election, based on what? The way the candidates dress? or comb their hair? or what they say during an election campaign?"
It would appear that Vic Kappes has misunderstood. He may or may not know that Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by the US Department of State
Hamas's charter clearly states that "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" and they make no secret of this.
According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, a terrorist is: "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion." Vic Kappes seems to be under the impression that there is something compatible about terrorism and democracy.
When armed gunmen enter the home of a man, drag him into the street and publicly club him to death then tie one of his limbs to a car and drive through the town parading his dead carcass because they 'suspect' he is collaborating with Israel, one must stand back and ask what kind of democracy would exist if the same people were ever to enter office. In a country with a true democratic government, a man suspected of doing the same thing would be tried under state law and if found guilty sentenced accordingly by a judge.
Israel will not decide who may or may not participate in the elections. Hamas has the ability to ensure their participation in the elections, all they need do is show themselves to be viable candidates for office by disarming and stopping incitement of hatred against the people of Israel
But Vic Kappes is entitled to his opinion I suppose, even if he does not have the slightest idea what he is talking about.
MP, Toronto, Canada:
In response to the stupidest comment ever posted on JPost - I propose this criteria for barring someone from an election: if you have killed, or helped someone kill an innocent baby, as everyone affiliated with Hamas has in one form or another, you don't have the right to participate.
You are either a terrorist or a politician, not both. Hamas can choose to lay its arms down and participate in a legitimate government that negotiates with Israel, or they can continue their current objective of the destruction of Israel knowing that Israel can have no policy in return other than the destruction of Hamas.
The logic isn't so hard once you pull your head out of your butt, is it?
Alexander Werner, Toronto, Canada:
I think the title of the article is misleading: Israeli government trying to say that they will still treat terrorists as terrorists even if they participate in elections either as candidates or the voters.
To answer to Vic Kappes, if EU states think they can treat some Israeli statesmen and officers as war criminals, they make plans to arrest them and do not hide those plans, then so can Israel. Elected representatives making bombs deserve to be arrested or killed by those against whom he prepares those bombs.
Kevin Reeves, Akron, OH, USA:
Amen. Stay steadfast Brothers! I agree 100% with the handling of this situation.