Palestinian members of Hamas's al-Qassam brigades..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
For Israel, the US announcement that it “will work” with the new Palestinian Fatah-Hamas government certainly was a disappointment both on a moral and a political scale. Impetuously rushing into the announcement while the swearing-in ceremony in Ramallah was hardly over in spite of previous assurances to Israel to the contrary may be seen as an indication that the US administration had probably decided all along to take this step, making the retrospective statement of the State Department spokesperson that “the US will be watching (the new government) closely” sound more than a bit contrived.
Less than a week before, President Barack Obama in his West Point speech had spoken about the “diffuse terrorism threats faced by the US,” announcing the creation of a $5 billion counterterrorism fund to help countries such as Yemen and Mali “fight emerging terrorist threats” but apparently not countries like Israel where the terrorist threat has long been a fully “emerged” one. But the money isn’t the real issue, and though the proposed initiative is commendable, it might have been more credible were it not for the implied distinction between supposedly different sorts of terrorism al-Qaida and its various off-shoots on the one hand, and the jihadist Hamas targeting Israel on the other hand.
The US also announced that it would fund the new Palestinian government contrary, by the way, to a Congressional resolution specifically forbidding the funding of organizations such as Hamas. Not surprisingly, the European Union, probably on the basis of a pre-synchronized agreement with Washington, eagerly followed suit both with regard to “working” with the Fatah-Hamas government and paying its bills.
The administration claims that the new Palestinian government’s ministers are all “technocrats” i.e. “technical experts” (experts in what exactly?) and “not affiliated with Hamas” as if those ministers got their jobs by some act of immaculate selection, and not by being chosen by the terrorist organization to which they owe allegiance. Naiveté is not to be frowned upon, even in diplomacy, but beyond a certain point it sounds, well a bit strange. Perhaps “seeking to bridge the rift with Israel,” as The Washington Post wrote, the State Department spokesperson also said that the US “will be judging this technocratic government by its actions, including compliance with pledges to denounce violence and recognize Israel.”
According to US law and policy (and also according to the EU) Hamas is a terror group. It is difficult, therefore, to imagine how this position could conceivably be reconciled with supporting a Palestinian government which includes appointees of that very group without the US breaking its own laws and undermining its own anti-terrorist precepts.
No less reprehensible, however, will be the effect of the Fatah-Hamas junction on the anyway only half-alive peace process. PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who even before was less than enthusiastic about a process which would have eventually obligated him to make difficult and unpalatable compromises, will obviously now be bolstered in his rejection-ism and negativism by his new partners.
“But haven’t we made our support for the government conditional on its actions, including compliance with pledges to denounce violence and recognize Israel?,” as Sec.
Kerry reiterated the US position in Beirut (not, by the way, compliance by Hamas itself) as if this were enough to wipe Hamas’s blood-stained slate clean.
In fact, the US administration’s announced stance is also a radical deviation from established American policy not only from that of the George W. Bush administration which made no distinction between different terrorist groups, but also from that of President Clinton who at the Wye River conference forcefully and successfully – insisted that the PLO annul those articles in its constitution which called for the destruction of the State of Israel.
It is inconceivable that the Obama administration wouldn’t have at least made the same demand of Hamas, i.e.
that it annul its genocidal charter, before giving its consent to “work” with the new Palestinian government? The Hamas charter, as the experts in the State Department and the President’s National Security Council surely know, calls unequivocally for the destruction of the State of Israel and the annihilation of Jews everywhere – often employing the language of the rabidly anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion while one of the organization’s senior ideologues, Dr. Ahmed Baher, in one of his speeches (incidentally, broadcast on Palestinian official television) has gone further and called for “the killing of every American and every Jew.”
According to Hamas TV this meant all “Jews, Christians and Communists.”
Does anyone in Washington or Brussels seriously believe that all this can be swept under the carpet by accepting make-believe “pledges” from this terror- tainted government?