Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hamas (part 2)

When Hamas won the elections in Palestine I wrote that they would eventually lighten up their rhetoric against Israel...and they did. They were only a week ago ready to forge documents that actually recognized Israel's right to exist. Hardly anyone believes that they were actually sincere, but this is still the first step in diplomacy. For the words 'diplomacy' and 'Hamas' to be used in the same sentence is still a step forward.

Now militants have captured an Israeli soldier and will let him return to his homeland alive if the Israelis let go 1000 Palestinian prisoners. This was an opportunity for Hamas to shine in the eyes of the world. They could have and should have turned up ever stone to find this soldier and return him to Israel. If they had done this they would established themselves as a Government that respects the rule of law and would have bolstered their position to negotiate for the release of these same Palestinian prisoners.

Instead they hemmed and hawed and provided no real assistance and as a result they have tanks lined up on their Gaza border and will probably be invaded soon.

Hamas did lighten up. Their willingness to have diplomacy with Israel angered loosely connected militants and now their hands are tied. Instead of using their power to restore order they began to make speeches that sounded more like the militants themselves. Hopefully in the coming years Hamas will not just lighten up, but also smarten up.

1 comment:

Robert the Grump said...

The Palestinians made a statement when they elected Hamas to run their new government.

That statement was; Israel, come kick our asses.

It's typical of the behavior in that part of the world that they cut their noses to spite their face. Totally self-destructive.

I was a little surprised to see Hamas bend a tiny bit on the issue of whether Israel exists or not. Like you, I felt it was a major consession for them, though not enough to do squat for the safety of the region. It's a start, at least.

It's obvious that there are elements over there that neither Hamas or Fatah can control. It would have been a tremendous gesture if they had tried to recover the kidnapped soldier, but also it would have been a political hot potato for Hamas.

What got them elected was partly that they are less corrupt than Fatah, but also they are hard liners. I don't how much they can bend without losing their electorate.

Leaving Gaza was a major consession for Israel, though it was also strategically in their best interests. They should leave the occupied part of Palestine as well, and force the illegal settlers out, but they won't do squat until Hamas shows some willingness to compromise.

I see little hope for the Middle East, but it's not completely hopeless. The IRA more or less has laid down their arms, and that was a miracle of nearly the same scale.