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February 20, 2006
Carter: They Know Not What They Did

Jimmy Carter takes an opportunity to explain to us why the United States and the world should not take the Palestinians at their word and cut off their funding after electing an Islamist terrorist group to a majority government. One month ago he was certifying the election as fair, and now today he argues that it makes no difference at all:

Although Hamas won 74 of the 132 parliamentary seats, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas retains the right to propose and veto legislation, with 88 votes required to override his veto. With nine of its elected members remaining in prison, Hamas has only 65 votes, plus whatever third-party support it can attract. Abbas also has the power to select and remove the prime minister, to issue decrees with the force of law when parliament is not in session, and to declare a state of emergency. As commander in chief, he also retains ultimate influence over the National Security Force and Palestinian intelligence.

After the first session of the new legislature, which was Saturday, the members will elect a speaker, two deputies and a secretary. These legislative officials are not permitted to hold any position in the executive branch, so top Hamas leaders may choose to concentrate their influence in the parliament and propose moderates or technocrats for prime minister and cabinet posts. Three weeks are allotted for the prime minister to form the cabinet, and a majority vote of the parliament is required for final approval.

After delineating all the reasons why the Palestinians may not see any immediate change in their government, he tells readers that Israel and the United States should remain positive about the changes that will come. Reacting to the ascension of an avowed terrorist group to power in a proto-state in a negative manner might, after all, give the impression that the US and Israel have colluded to undermine the new terrorist government there.

Oh, well, we can't have that happening, can we?

Carter further argues that we should not overreact because Hamas will be no worse than Fatah in holding peace talks, which have not restarted after more than a year. At least Fatah's governing element had a willingness to meet on a basis that recognized an Israeli state, but that's not even really the point. Carter wants the US and Israel to restart the funding of the Palestinian government despite the clear mandate from the Palestinians that they want a war with Israel -- in effect demanding tha Israel fund the machinery that wants to kill it.

The argument coming from Carter and others is that we need to support democracy, including when people make choices for terrorism. In those instances, we should forget our own national interest and act as if the Palestinians had no idea that Hamas bombs women and children in pizzerias and buses and loudly proclaims its desire to annihilate the state of Israel. It's a ludicrous position and one that holds people in contempt. Why not acknowledge the choice that the Palestinians have made, freely and openly as Carter has certified? They have chosen poorly -- and removing the consequences of that choice will only allow them to continue to choose poorly in the future.

We need to set an example for the rest of the world that with democracy comes responsibility. If a people freely elect avowed terrorists to government instead of responsible leaders, then they will reap the consequences of that choice. We do not need to take the advice of the father of our conflict with Islamofascism -- the man who undermined the Shah in Iran and allowed the Islamists to take over that strategic country and then sat back and did nothing when they sacked our embassy and held our people hostage for 444 days. Had we treated the Iranians as responsible for that act of war in November 1979, we would have put an end to the modern Islamist movement and would have avoided almost thirty years of Iranian funding of terrorists in the region, including Hamas itself.

The Palestinians are not children, and they have chosen their course. If Carter doesn't accept that, then he has no business discussing democracy at all.

UPDATE: Note to SwabJockey -- my prediction is that State will continue to push for humanitarian aid to the Palestinian "people", which will wind up in Hamas' hands regardless. See "Oil For Food Program, Volumes I - XXVII".

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 20, 2006 6:06 AM

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