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March 17, 2006
Hamas Double-Talks As Fatah Takes A Powder

The new prime minister for the Palestinian Authority, Hamas activist Ismail Haniyeh, hinted at recognition for Israel but only if it gave up Jerusalem and returned to the 1948 borders -- but had earlier said that the Palestinians would only support a long-term truce under those conditions and not a lasting peace. Meanwhile, Fatah has decided to let Hamas run the government on its own, opting out of any power-sharing agreement:

Asked in an interview with CBS News aired Thursday if he could foresee a day when he would be invited to sign a peace agreement with Israel, Ismail Haniyeh replied: "Let's hope so."

But Hamas, which won Palestinian parliamentary elections in a landslide in January, has rebuffed Israel's conditions for talks, namely, that the group disarm and recognize the Jewish state's right to exist.

Haniyeh told CBS that Hamas wouldn't meet those conditions for talks unless Israel "recognized a Palestinian state within the boundaries of Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem." ...

In a published interview last month, Haniyeh said Hamas would establish "peace in stages" if Israel would withdraw to its boundaries before the 1967 war. But he immediately distanced himself from those remarks by saying Hamas was interested in a long-term truce with Israel, but did not seek peace with it.

Hamas uses Haniyeh as its most moderate face for the terrorist group, but even Haniyeh can't pull off this kind of double-talk. The PA has signed treaties and made agreements with Israel and the Quartet, and the terrorists refuse to honor them. Until they commit to following the agreements already made, Palestinian statehood is a dead letter. When the Palestinians start electing statesmen instead of terrorists, then we can get serious about negotiating for their independence, but not by stripping Israel of its defenses.

Fatah has seen this and is taking the smart strategy of allowing Hamas to ruin itself all alone. Hamas could not be bothered to assist Fatah politically while Arafat ran the PA, and Fatah has little inclination pull Hamas' bacon from the fire, so to speak. Why should they shoulder the blame that will come when the entire enterprise implodes from the isolation and sanctions that will come from Hamas' insistence on open warfare with Israel? Better to let that policy play all the way out and stand as a rational alternative to the Islamist nutcases of Hamas.

Unfortunately, that will result in a lot more death and misery, mostly for the Palestinians themselves. It's hard to feel much sympathy for their plight when they continually choose their fate freely, and by most accounts, cheerfully. They want war, they vote for war, they support terrorism -- and they should bear the full costs of those choices.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 17, 2006 6:34 AM

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