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March 27, 2006
Hamas Wants Dictation, Not Talks

Hamas steps up its public-relations campaign today by insisting that it wants peace talks with the rest of the world even while it rules out negotiating with and recognizing the one nation that has a real stake in the outcome. The new Prime Minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, Ismail Haniyeh, insisted that Hamas truly wants peace while remaining defiant about their goal of the destruction of Israel, while another Hamas apologist scolds the US in the Boston Globe for refusing to deal with terrorist organizations.

Haniyeh announced that he wants the Western Powers to listen to their demands for a "just peace":

Hamas's prime minister-designate, Ismail Haniyeh, told parliament that the new government, expected to win a vote of confidence on Tuesday or Wednesday, would be ready for a dialogue with the "Quartet" of mediating powers. ...

"Our government will be ready for a dialogue with the Quartet ... to look into all ways to end the status of struggle and to achieve calm in the region.

"Our people are in need more than any other nation on earth for peace, for security and stability. Our government will not spare any effort to achieve a just peace in the region."

But Haniyeh showed no sign of agreeing to demands by Western powers and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that it commit to negotiations with Israel.

The new country should be called Chutzpahstan, as Haniyeh demanded that President Bush deliver on his promise of a sovereign Palestinian state. This is the same group that wants to toss out every agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, including the Oslo accord, that the US sponsored over the last fifteen years. Haniyeh isn't interested in talks at all -- he wants to dictate terms under which Hamas may or may not lay down arms and stop terrorizing Israel, and those terms are Israel's destruction.

The Globe op-ed piece by Makau Mutua follows the same party line, focusing on our refusal to deal with elected terrorists. Matua laughingly declares that only by accepting a terrorist-run government can we truly support democracy:

CONTRARY TO popular political rhetoric in the West, it is a colossal mistake to isolate Hamas, the Islamist movement poised to form the next government in the Palestinian Authority. It is neither democratic nor politically defensible to deny a people the right to be governed by a party they have freely elected to power. If the West truly supports democracy, it must accept a Hamas government.

Hamas is not a garden-variety political party. But the occupied territories are not a run-of-the-mill political entity. It is a society that has been under occupation and colonization for decades. Hamas rose to power because of the failure of the Western-led Oslo peace process, the virtual collapse of the Palestinian Authority, and impotence of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Like it or not, Hamas is now the embodiment of the sovereignty of the people of Palestine.

It smacks of hypocrisy for the West and Israel to accept the participation of Hamas in the elections and then reject its victory over Fatah, the party of PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas. This is tantamount to accepting the results of a fair contest only if your preferred side wins. That is not how democracy works. What moral authority or consistency can the United States -- and the West -- claim if they reject a democratically elected Hamas government?

That is false logic. We told the Palestinians exactly what they could expect by electing Hamas to power. No one has suggested that Hamas stole that election; in fact, it was probably more fair than the election which gave Mahmoud Abbas his presidency. The Palestinians now have to live with the results of their choice. What's undemocratic about that? Would we be obliged to accede to their demands if the Palestinians passed a referendum declaring all-out war against Israel? Of course not -- and that's exactly what the Palestinians did when they elected Hamas to power, and the refusal of Hamas to work within existing agreements and to recognize Israel as a sovereign nation proves it.

Matua's fatuous logic pervades this piece. He talks about the "pathologies of Oslo" and how Hamas is the only organization that can bring peace to the Middle East. That seems a rather strange description of an organization that commits suicide bombings that target civilians and who refuse to change their position about their ultimate goal of the destruction of another country. Bigots do not make peace, and terrorists do not make reliable negotiating partners. Hamas represents the Islamic-supremacist network that has declared war on the US as well as Israel, and as long as they represent that, we need not accede to their demands nor send a penny to their supporters and voters in the Palestinian territories.

When the Palestinians truly want peace, we will know it. They will elect people willing to negotiate in good faith for a two-state solution, a government not run by terrorists but by statesmen. Until then, we owe them nothing, not even an acknowledgement of their demands and threats.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 27, 2006 6:48 AM

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