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April 16, 2006
Palestinian Choices Bring Tough Consequences

The Gaza Palestinians have begun to experience the consequences of electing terrorists to govern their territories, as the Guardian (UK) reports this morning. Hamas has refused to renounce violence, recognize Israel, or agree to abide by previous agreements, and so the Western nations on which the Palestinians rely for economic aid have responded by cutting off the money that pays their bills, including salaries. This has caused the Palestinians to grumble about their new leadership and to openly defy the government Hamas leads:

Karni is officially closed because the Israeli army has declared a security alert for the Jewish Passover holiday. Yet it has barely been open this year. The effect is a paralysis of Gaza's commerce and severe shortages of basic foods. Not that the locals are in a position to buy what food there is. There is little money because the European Union, Canada and the United States have stopped funding the aid-dependent Palestinian Authority, which can no longer pay its staff's wages.

The result is that families are existing on tiny amounts of money and businesses are facing collapse. Palestinian areas in the West Bank face similar difficulties, but the situation in Gaza is much more severe. John Ging, the Gaza director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said that, while he did not expect people to starve, 'the clock is ticking towards a crisis'.

To add further misery, in retaliation for militants firing home-made Qassam rockets at Israel, the Israel Defence Force has bombarded the north of Gaza with thousands of artillery shells. Gazans fear external pressures will lead to domestic unrest in which the situation is used as a weapon against Hamas by supporters of Fatah who have not accepted January's electoral defeat. ...

At the root of Gaza's problems is Israel's determination to force Hamas to recognise the state of Israel and renounce violence. Israel has been joined in its efforts by Britain, the EU and the US. Hamas militants have been on a ceasefire for 16 months but they are determined to withhold recognition of Israel at least until it withdraws from occupied Palestinian territory.

That last paragraph is a bit of a dodge by the Guardian. The root of the problem lies in the Islamist terrorist group the Palestinians elected to replace the supposedly reformed secular terrorists of the PLO. Islamist Hamas has never renounced terror operations nor its charter mission of annihilating Israel. The Palestinians never adhered to the series of agreements that started with Oslo and gave them their autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza, but at least they recognized them as a framework for further negotiations. Hamas won't even do that, insisting that everything preceding their election no longer applied.

Well, if that is true, then that also applies to the money we stuffed in Palestinian pockets for supposedly engaging the Israelis. The cash has kept Palestinian kleptocrats afloat for years; a significant chunk of it wound up in Arafat's pockets, and since then funded other more petty corruptions. Hamas certainly looked forward to getting their hands on that money, and for reasons other than corruption.

We made it clear over the years that we would not deal with Islamist terrorists who refused to disarm, reform, and join the peace process. The Palestinians didn't listen or didn't care and elected them anyway. Now they want to be sheltered from the consequences of their choices, as the Guardian quotes one such voter:

Ahab is quick to blame Hamas for the current predicament. 'Hamas used to give out charity coupons, but now they have to give out wages and they find out it is not so easy,' he said. Adib, like many non-Hamas supporters, also blames the West. 'They ask for democracy and then they do not like the result,' he said.

Au contraire! You, sir, wanted freedom but do not like the responsibility that comes with it. The Palestinians have the freedom to choose their leadership, and if the two existing parties did not represent their political will, they could form another that does. The fact that Palestinians have only two political choices, one of which are Islamist terrorists and the other secular terrorists and thieves, reflects the Palestinian desire for continued conflict instead of negotiated peace. As long as the Palestinians continue to choose these kind of leaders, they can expect the West to wash their hands of Gaza and the West Bank.

That much, it appears, has finally been made clear to the Palestinians. Even the promise of Russian aid won't save them from their own infliction of economic disaster that comes from biting the hands that fed them.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 16, 2006 7:38 AM

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