Iran and Hamas can be checked

Western support for unpopular regimes can backfire and Palestinians must be held to signed agreements.

By
January 31, 2006 02:44
3 minute read.
Iran and Hamas can be checked

hamas flags 88. (photo credit: )

On Sunday, visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel said of the prospect of a Palestinian regime run by an unreconstructed Hamas: "Such a Palestinian Authority cannot be directly supported by money from the EU." Yesterday in London, the Quartet met to discuss this issue, and to a large measure concurred with Merkel. At the same time in Brussels, the foreign ministers of the UK, France and Germany reached an impasse on what to do about Iran's nuclear weapons potential.

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In other words, the attention of the international community happens to be focused on the two regimes in the world that are openly committed to Israel's destruction. The irony of this situation is hard to miss. As Yossi Klein Halevi puts it in The New Republic, "Precisely at the moment when a majority of the Israeli people has accepted not just the political necessity but moral legitimacy of a Palestinian state, the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people empowers its most hateful and triumphalist ideology." The Likud has been quick to blame this turn of events on disengagement. Indeed, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Palestinians felt they had nothing to lose on the diplomatic front, since PA paralysis and Israeli unilateralism ensured that no negotiations would ensue, and that withdrawals might continue even without negotiations. The blame, however, over "who lost the PA" goes much deeper. Since 1993, it is estimated that the US alone gave $1.5 billion to the Palestinians, and had budgeted a further $234 million for this year. The European Union was slated to provide $615 million this year. The international community continued to shovel money to the PA, regardless of whether the PA fought terrorism or not, and regardless of rampant corruption. It thereby demonstrated to Palestinians that the West cared only about maintaining the PA, despite Palestinian disenchantment with their leaders. If there is a cautionary tale here, it is that Western support for unpopular regimes can backfire, that popular support cannot always be bought, and that there is a price to be paid for not holding the Palestinians, in this case, to signed agreements. The West has a long record of undermining its own proclamations on Iran and the PA. Iranian violations of its nuclear commitments, not to mention its avid support for terrorism, should have triggered UN Security Council sanctions years ago. And why is anyone surprised that the PA would neither fight terrorism or clean up corruption when it was clear that aid would continue unfettered? With regard to Iran and "Hamastan," the US and Europe are facing a classic choice between confrontation and appeasement. Neither is a case where radical tactics and objectives - such as racing to obtain nuclear weapons, support for terrorism, and seeking the destruction of Israel and the proliferation of Islamist regimes - can be negotiated away or assuaged through partial fulfillment. The wider jihad against the West, of which the war against Israel is a part, will either gather momentum and succeed, or it will be confronted and defeated. In both cases, it is not clear what level of confrontation will be sufficient. An undeniable starting point, however, is to stop maintaining business as usual to such a degree that it is tantamount to assistance. Accordingly, there should be no "trial period" for a Palestinian regime that includes, let alone is dominated by, Hamas. All EU assistance should be cut off, and not restored based on amorphous statements in English unmatched by any real action against terrorism. If Arab countries step in to fill in the gap, as we reported that Saudi Arabia may be poised to do, that is better than the West funding the hand that is shooting at it. Iran is a much more serious problem, but the principle is the same: the first step is stop allowing the storm to gather. Iranian intentions are known, they need not be further gauged. If there is any chance of stopping the Iranian bomb short of military action, it is through swift and draconian sanctions. The genocidal threats from Iran and Hamas can be met, provided the West stops trying to let its sworn enemies off the hook.


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