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The Los Angeles Times editorial board can sometimes provide a pleasant surprise, and today it demonstrates this when reviewing the Bush administration's Palestinian policy in light of the latest suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. The LAT utterly rejects Hamas' attempt at moral equivalence and gives a strong endorsement of the isolation policy pushed by the US:
THE HORROR OF MONDAY'S SUICIDE bombing in Tel Aviv, which killed the bomber and nine other people and wounded scores more, presented Hamas with an opportunity to break from its history as a supporter of terrorism. Instead, a spokesman for Hamas, which formed a Palestinian parliamentary government last month, described the attack carried out by another group, Islamic Jihad, as an act of self-defense.
If there was any lingering doubt that the U.S. and Europe were right to ostracize the Hamas government and cut off economic aid, it has been dramatically dispelled. It remains part of the problem, not part of any Arab-Israeli solution.
That doesn't mean Israel should respond to the attack with self-defeating actions, such as a wholesale reoccupation of the Gaza Strip. It does mean that Israel has cause to crack down anew on Islamic Jihad and institute stronger security measures along the "Green Line" separating Israel and the West Bank — even if that means injuring and inconveniencing innocent Palestinians. As always, they are hostages to the extremists.
No one wants Israel to re-occupy Gaza, least of all Israel itself. They may have split on the withdrawal from the strip when Ariel Sharon proposed and then executed the plan, but the force needed to reoccupy Gaza and the destruction it would wreak can only be exceeded by the long-term costs of holding the ground afterwards. Their withdrawal from Gaza has given the world an excellent view of the kind of state the Palestinians will create when left to their own devices -- a gangland that resembles Somalia more than any other state, where warlords rule and the nonexistent central government remains powerless to protect itself or its people.
The Times also endorses the security barrier, although it issues the standard concern about the Palestinian innocents that will suffer as a result of the extremists. They neglect to mention that the Palestinians voted for the extremists, the very people who now celebrate the suicide bombing of that oh-so-threatening falafel stand as an act of "self-defense". The Hamas position reveals the triangle-offense strategy about which I wrote yesterday, where at least one of the three powers in the territories remains free to conduct these attacks while providing political cover for the other two as they cluck their tongues but do nothing to disarm the radicals in all three movements. In this case, Hamas can't even bring itself to cluck its tongue, and the Times notes that this bodes ill for the entire notion of the cease-fire that Hamas supposedly respects. This is the leadership that the Palestinian "innocents" selected, and they now will have to deal with the consequences of that choice.
Overall, though, the Times manages to get this one right. They even acknowledge the need for Israel to take action that will remind the Palestinians that targeting unarmed civilians for murder has its consequences, especially when the government endorses such attacks. The loss of access to Jerusalem sounds like a good starting point, and even the LA Times appears to agree.Sphere It View blog reactions
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