“Dealing With Hamas”

14 01 2009

During Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator John Kerry not only underscored the need for greater engagement in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but also the counterproductive consequences of bombing campaign in Gaza.

Kerry noted:

I had the privilege of being in the West Bank the day — the morning after President Abbas was elected in 2005 and I met with him in Ramallah in that old headquarters and we spent some time together and he looked at me and he said, “You know, Senator, I know exactly what you expect of me. I have to disarm Hamas. Now, you tell me how I’m supposed to do that. I have no radios, I have no cars, I have no police, and Hamas has the ability to walk up to a door and deliver $20,000 value to somebody who’s blown up, widows or orphans of a family of a suicide bomber.”

They deliver the services and we, for years, have talked about the creation of a legitimate partner for peace and yet we’ve done almost nothing to fundamentally help them deliver that capacity.

So my hope is — I mean, I fear — I mean, Israel has all the right in the world and we are totally supportive of the patience they’ve shown, the forbearance, over 10,500 rockets, the fact that Hamas broke the ceasefire. We understand the need to deal with Hamas, but we also have to recognize the threat here that Hamas may, in fact, wind up being more powerful than FATA as a consequence.

If Hamas becomes more powerful as a result of Israel’s war in the Gaza strip, it only stands to reason it will be difficult to work around them politically. With thousands of Hamas rockets finding their way into southern Israel thus far, one can only dare to imagine how many they would fire if peace talks were conducted and they were not at the table.

Of course, this is further complicated by the fact that Hamas actually controls the government in the Gaza strip thanks to the Bush administration insistence that elections be held there despite warnings that the Western backed Fatah party would lose.

For her part, Clinton maintained that Hamas must yield to a variety of demands before Israel and the U.S. engage them in peace talks. “When it comes to non-state actors like Hamas, as I said at the very end of the morning session, there are conditions. Hamas must renounce violence. They must recognize Israel, and they must agree to abide by all previous agreements,” she told the committee,” she told the Committee yesterday.

I am not sure this is realistic these preconditions are  no matter how much the U.S. and Israel are committed to them. In my mind, the U.S. would have to redirect its energies toward weakening Hamas by persuading those in its political arm to side with other moderates living in the occupied territories and create another rival party or remake Fatah into a independent party that with real support.

Both of which would be difficult to do considering how Hamas has all the real fighters, which is all the more important in a time of war. Plus, with other countries in the region such as Iran in supporting Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian fighter group, the influence of Saudi cash, and possibility of rocket fire coming from Hezbollah forces in Lebanon all could make things instantly more volatile with or without new elections and with or without peace talks.

So the fact that we need “to deal with Hamas” becomes painfully clear with each passing year, and that may include doing so diplomatically. We may not need to widely advertise that fact, but we also should not completely ignore it either.

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One response

6 09 2012
Antoinette Knowles

The Obama Administration is giving $1.5 million to the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. Congress was notified that the requirement of aid for a democracy reform or to aid a democracy government was being waiver. Do you suppose this was arranged when the Muslim Brotherhood visited the White House in May but “will not see the President” was told to the public?

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