February 25, 2007

France: We Can Work With Terrorists

The unanimity of the global community that demanded that the Palestinian government recognize Israel before restoring aid has sported its first cracks, and to no one's great surprise, those cracks have come from France. Foreign minister Phillipe Douste-Blazy, who once called Iran a stabilizing force in the Middle East, pledged cooperation with the Hamas-Fatah government that refuses to meet the demands of the Quartet:

France has pledged to cooperate with a coalition Palestinian government that would include Hamas, in a key boost for Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. But Abbas's European tour failed to make headway on resuming aid for his struggling people.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy's promise Saturday to work with a government including Hamas and Fatah was the bright spot in Abbas's four-country swing through Europe this week. Other European leaders were more cautious, preferring to wait until the government is formed before making any commitments.

"I encouraged Mr. Abbas to persevere in his efforts to quickly form a national unity government," Douste-Blazy told reporters Saturday evening as Abbas wrapped up his trip.

If the government is formed according to the power-sharing deal worked out in Mecca last month, Douste-Blazy said, "France will be ready to cooperate with it. And our country will plead on its behalf within the European Union and with other partners in the international community."

French pleas will fall on deaf ears. This isn't brain surgery to anyone but Douste-Blazy and the Chirac government. When the Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce violence and terrorism as well as ratify the previous agreements made with the PA, then aid will flow back into the territories and the process towards statehood can start again. Until then, the West should not -- and hopefully will not -- underwrite terrorist organizations, regardless of how much unity they display amongst themselves.

Unfortunately, Douste-Blazy isn't the only one slow on the uptake in this process. Kinf Abdullah II of Jordan urged the West to recognize this historic opportunity for peace, even though Hamas has explicitly rejected peace. He said that the situation had reached a crossroads, and the opportunity to integrate Israel into the "neighborhood" and achieve a two-state solution was slipping away. However, Abdullah didn't tell that to the right people. Israel already has committed themselves to the two-state solution; it's Hamas that has thrown out all of the PA's treaties and refuses to support anything short of the annihilation of Israel.

For some reason, people see the union of Hamas and Fatah as some sort of breakthrough in the peace process, but a unity government for the Palestinians only addresses their internal tensions, not their relationship to Israel. Actually, that's not quite true -- it makes the relationship to Israel worse than before. Why some nations want to leap to their checkbooks to reward the Islamist integration into the PA is a question only Douste-Blazy could answer, if he could even comprehend the question.


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