On the nature of states, Hamas, its allies and competitors



We are seeing, once again, the problems in dealing with amorphous organizations that are not states, but have the means to make others miserable.

The classic conception of a state is a body that possesses a monopoly of force, and controls what happens in its name and within its borders.
Many of what we call states do not measure up to that standard. However, terrorist organizations fall even further.
Other traits of states are borders recognized by other states, and functioning institutions to select the individuals entitled to make policy for the state and speak in its name. Free elections, freedom of criticism, following the rule of law, with independent judiciaries to decide on the law as well as the guilt or innocence of those charged with violations are not required for being recognized as a state. Those traits allow us to identify Israel, the countries of western Europe, the American continent north of the Rio Grande, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and a small number of other places as entitled to be called democratic, civilized, enlightened, or another nice word of your choice.
While few of what are loosely granted the title of states threaten their neighbors, terrorist organizations (almost all of those currently active competing for the designation of being Islamicly kosher), have become the greatest threats to comity, civility, trade and other cooperation between peoples.
We see in the Hamas-Jihadist-Fatah conglomeration under the heading of Palestine the difficulties in reaching agreement. Parties, organizations, movements, and/or gangs that are ethnically, linguistically, and at least nominally religiously homogeneous, lack the leadership and organizational discipline to make binding decisions. Extend that cluster to ISIS, al-Quaida, Boko Haram, and who knows how many other organizations claiming to be the fighting edge of Islam. 
In recent days we have heard that Hamas agreed to accept Fatah (the party of Mahmoud Abbas) controls on the border of Gaza. We also heard that Hamas had been preparing to seize control of the West Bank from Fatah by force. Once again, it took the work of Israeli security forces to frustrate Hamas and save Abbas.
Military setbacks do not bring terrorist gangs to surrender and compliance with cease fire, as expected from armies affiliated with national governments. More likely is a faction seeing an opportunity to continue fighting, to attract support from other organizations, and  getting money and weapons from one of the rogue Muslim states (Iran, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, perhaps Turkey) or money from a wealthy Muslim family operating independently from whatever state it happens to live in.
The support and trouble-making capacity going to one or another Islamic extremist group from Saudi families--perhaps against the wishes of whoever is on top of the royal family--dwarfs the political trouble flowing from wealthy Jews like George Soros or Sheldon Adelson.
There are several explanations for the wave of rockets fired toward Beer Sheva in the mid afternoon of a cease fire that was supposed to continue until midnight. Optimists had viewed that cease fire as a continuation of five days quiet, extended by agreement so that the parties could polish the final wording of several points suggested by Egyptian mediators.
Given the multiplicity of sectors within Hamas and among its allies, all explanations have an element of speculation. Among those provided by Arabic-speaking journalists claiming access, is that Qatar had threatened Khalid Mashal with deportation from his cushy overseas location where he claims to be the senior leader of Hamas if he did not scuttle the deal being put together by Egypt, and advance Qatar''s proposal.
We can wonder if Qataris were concerned to improve the deal offered to Hamas, or were simply challenging Egypt as the arbiter of Arab disputes.
By Israel''s accounting, this was the 11th Palestinian violation of a cease fire.
Yet it is only Israel being targeted by the UNHRC''s commission to investigate violations of human rights.
One result of whatever ended the cease fire was a siren that caused us to wake up and stumble toward shelter at 23:45. Between the siren and the boom of Iron Dome, I thought about a Hebrew University friend and colleague, proud to describe himself as far to the left and having been an adviser to Yassir Arafat, who admitted that news of a terror attack provoked a strong desire to kill the first Arab he encountered.
Israel is not confirming what many assume, that Israel''s responses to this violation of a cease fire was the targeting of Hamas'' senior military commander. Palestinian sources say that they found the bodies of his wife and young child, plus another individual not yet identified, in one of the buildings destroyed. 
Most likely this attack will add another clause to the UNHRC indictment.
It took years, several wars, countless contacts both open and secret, with and without international mediators between Israeli officials and those of Egypt and Jordan,before there were treaties of peace and exchanges of ambassadors. Agreements with both governments have held, perhaps imperfectly. However the success is a long way from anything achieved, or even approached between Israel and whoever claims to be speaking for Palestinians. 
There are Israelis and other who claim that an Israel-Palestine agreement has been close, and would have occurred if there had been greater flexibility by Israel, or if the settlements did not exist, or because of another Israeli misstep. However, such expressions are closer to politically inspired wishing or appeals to a political constituency than to anything that could pass muster as an academic dissertation.
There may be lessons in the years required for the US to reach an agreement with North Vietnam. That, too, was involved with hydra headed alliances that included the competing powers of China and the Soviet Union. But the ideological elements of Communism were a pale shadow of the capacity of Islam to inflame the masses. And the US success in getting out of Vietnam--half a world away from Washington--involved its surrender of the South.
There is no sign that Israel is willing to surrender itself for the sake of peace with Hamas or any other completing cluster of Islamic extremists or Palestinian nationalists. The threat against this small country comes not from half a world away, but from what here and at many other places is across the street.