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Hamas: Heads we win, tails you lose


As long as there is no real progress in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian authority, there is little chance that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian authority can reverse the Hamas coup in Gaza. As long as Hamas rules in Gaza, there is little chance of progress in peace talks. That is the first paradox of the peace process.

There is also a second paradox. An Israeli operation in Gaza aimed at stopping the rain of rockets on Sderot would likely result in enthronement of the Hamas (see Israel and Hamas: Half a loaf may be poisonous). If you don't believe me about this, here is an "expert" view:

In the diplomatic arena, Hamas believes a confrontation with Israel that may shed a lot of blood will make their organization seem heroic in the eyes of the Arab public. Particularly, it will prevent Abbas from negotiating with Israel while Israel crushes neighborhoods in Gaza. At the same time, criticism against the organization by its Fatah foes will be construed as supporting Israel as it slays Palestinians.

Such a military campaign, Hamas believes, threatens Abbas just as much as it does Hamas and the citizens of Gaza. Renewing talks between Fatah and Hamas is seen as the last ditch effort to avoid confrontation with Israel, but Abbas will not allow it.

But it is just as obvious that if Israel negotiates with Hamas, as many in the "peace camp" are insisting they must do (see for example here) it means that Hamas, and not Abbas, become the de-facto peace partner, and the Palestinian authority becomes part of the detritus of history. "Heads we win, tails you lose." Israeli Deputy Premier Haim Ramon has said he believes the Hamas will no longer be ruling Gaza within months. Maybe he knows something we don't, but it is more likely Ismail Haniyeh knows a few things Haim Ramon doesn't know, like when to keep his mouth shut.

Toppling Hamas would require, at least, a plan, and it is evident that Israel has no real plan or options other than the risky one of invasion of Gaza. Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak noted that Israel would not mount a large scale operation in Gaza until it had a political exit plan. Don't hold your breath until that happens.

One way out of the tangle would, in theory, be for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to negotiate a peace agreement, gain domestic and international support for that agreement, and then get the Arab League and the "international community" to remove Hamas. That could work if such an agreement were feasible, and if there was really an international community. Here lies a third paradox of the Israeli-Palestinian situation. An agreement that trumps Hamas would have to be an agreement that is so good that Palestinians can't possibly turn it down. It would have to include "right of return" as well as Arab Palestinian control of all of East Jerusalem. No Israeli government could make such an agreement. Equally, an agreement that could keep Olmert's shaky coalition intact would have to include United Jerusalem - including Arab areas, under Israeli sovereignty, and no Palestinian leadership will agree to that. Moreover, one suspects that ANY agreement would face the same problem. In order to sell it to their people, the leaders have to present it as a victory. But Palestinians will not support an agreement if Israelis say it is good, and Israelis are not likely to support an agreement if Palestinians say it is a good deal.

Ami Isseroff

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Replies: 5 comments

The expert view is defeatist dhimmi garbage. If such a position would have been adopted in the past, the Third Reich and the USSR would still be around. In Malaya and Cambodia, a sound thrashing of the extremists reshaped those societies. Soundly beating Hamas would take the shine off their ideology, or to out it plainly (if crudely), "If one has them by the b...s, their hearts and minds will follow". They are popular, because the powers tie Israel's hands and Israel's leadership is a disgraceful pack of post-Zioninst appeasers.
Invade Gaza, turn off the electricity, feed only persons protected under the Hague Convention and the Gazans will turn on Hamas over night.

Posted by Paul Winter @ 02/12/2008 03:45 PM CST

It is really a bad situation and cross road for all parties. But what I can tell that from the palestinians point of view you had to demand to get your house back to you and keep demanding that regardless if your head will be cut because of that. It is the situation that many people with balls had to do it or else they would no longer be considered to have balls. period.
I think I heard that some Sage once said " a right is never lost for who is keep demanding it", and also the way might be as true : a right is lost if stop demanding it!!!

Posted by adam moft @ 02/19/2008 03:04 PM CST




Posted by Patrick Smithie @ 02/22/2008 01:18 AM CST

yes, the answer is to kill more pals. kill, kill, kill. israel has been doing that since 1948. how's it workin' for ya?

Posted by scottsoperson @ 03/22/2008 09:01 PM CST

in maylasia, the guerillas represented the minority population. in palestine, hamas is the majority. in cambodia, the khmer rouge committed mass genocide against their own people which caused them to be very unpopular with their own people. hamas i suspect is still very popular among pals due to israelis still killing lots of pals every day.

by the way, the United States supported the khmer rouge for quite a long time. and it sounds like some israelis support the tactics of the khmer rouge or want to emulate them in palestine.

Posted by scottsoperson @ 03/22/2008 09:05 PM CST

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