January 26, 2006

"When you give people the vote, you give people a chance to express themselves at the polls . . . "

"... and if they're unhappy with the status quo, they'll let you know."

--President Bush, searching for positive things to say about the Palestinian election.
"What was also positive is that it's a wakeup call to the leadership," he said. Palestinians are demanding honest government, services, decent education and health care, he said. "And so the elections should open the eyes of the old guard there in the Palestinian territories." He said there was "something healthy" about the "competition of ideas" that the elections embodied.

"On the other hand, I don't see how you can be a partner in peace if you advocate the destruction of a country as part of your platform," Bush said. "And I know you can't be a partner in peace . . . if your party has got an armed wing."

11 comments:

Sloanasaurus said...

It will be interesting to see how Europe and other powers will now view the situation in Israel.

The Palestinian people are no longer innocent. They have chosen death.

If Hamas is now the "state," terrorist attacks by it are now acts of war by a state under international law. Israel will have concrete international law behind it in "going to war" against Hamas. In otherwords, Hamas won't last in power past the first act of war (suicide attack) against Israel. Israel will have every right to bomb Hamas and all their supporters until they sue for peace.

PatCA said...

Looking into my crystal ball, I predict that Hamas will put on a new face, then demand "aid" from the EU and the US. They will get it. They will arm themselves even further and purchase a few Paris townhomes to boot, and the murder will continue.

Mac VerStandig said...

In modern history, no two democracies have raised arms against each other. The time may have finally come.

jeff said...

One thing I've seen other places is an agreement that this probably surprised Hamas as much as anyone, if not more.

They've apparently already asked, and been refused, Fatah to help form a coalition government.

It'll be interesting to see if they can organize an effective government quickly, or alternatively how quickly the place descends in to chaos and anarchy.

Eli Blake said...

I am a bit more optimistic than you all are.

Not that I disagree with anyone who says that Hamas is a terrorist organization. They deserve everything they have had said about them in the past, and every Israeli bomb that has targetted their leadership.

However, now that they suddenly hold the reigns of government (and they know the main reason why is not because Palestinians want to fight to the death against Israel, it was because Fatah was corrupt-- the same reason the Canadians just booted their government), they will either sink or swim.

And they know full well that if they lead the Palestinian Authority into an all out war against the Israeli military, that it would be suicidal.

For this reason, they will have to mature quickly and begin acting like a government. My guess is that they will. Say what you will, but the money they have collected in the past has gone for 1) arms, and 2) social services helping the poorest Palestians (those who are now their base). What they haven't done is enrich themselves. Based on this, my belief is that now that they have to govern, they will reform the corruption, and they will, sooner or later, have to open some sort of (at least behind the scenes) contact with Israel about things like border crossings, water use and similar issues. This could open the door a crack towards more meaningful discussions.

But here is the real reason why this could be a huge step in the right direction. The old Palestinian Authority either was unwilling, or unable, to crack down on armed groups-- including Hamas, that continually attacked Israel. Now, right now, Hamas says they are observing a 'truce' against Israel. Unlike Fatah, they can actually make this stick, because they have both the moral authority and reputation for ruthlessness among Palestinians (and no, that is not an oxymoron in that part of the world) to make it stick. It is no accident that among the Israelis who held that position in the minds of Israeli citizens, that they could trust them to negotiate with enemies while keeping Israel secure, were Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon, both considered terrorists by their opponents. Terrorists, but held in grudging respect at the same time. And when they made a move towards peace (as in, for example, Sharon evacuating the Gaza settlements recently) , they could do that despite vigorous internal opposition.

Hamas could, if it wanted, do pretty much the same on the other side. I remember once having a discussion about how Arafat had rejected the Barak offer and allowed the 'intifada' to begin instead. The person I was talking to online, a Palestinian, put it this way: The people wanted to riot, and Arafat has the authority to say, 'yes.' That pretty much summed it up. He could only say one thing. And Abbas has not been able to suppress attacks on Israel either. He is too weak, a reflection of Fatah's being too weak. Hamas, like it or not, has the power to tell the Palestinian people 'Yes' OR 'No,' and be obeyed.

And they may not be ready to tell them, 'no,' today, but one day they may, and then Israel will at least have the luxury of knowing that they are facing a Palestinian leadership that can make promises and keep them.

Balfegor said...

Palestinians are demanding honest government, services, decent education, health care, and the destruction of Israel

. . . he should have said.

I know this:

However, now that they suddenly hold the reigns of government (and they know the main reason why is not because Palestinians want to fight to the death against Israel, it was because Fatah was corrupt-- the same reason the Canadians just booted their government), they will either sink or swim.

is probably true. Or at least, it would be nice if it were, and I have heard of poll data suggesting it is. But really, it is the Palestinians' own fault for not voting in any non-corrupt parties that didn't want to wage eternal war against the Jewish state. In fairness, there probably weren't any given that, as I understand it, lawless mobs not infrequently lynch Palestinians who publicly oppose armed offensives against Israel, and they'd probably get their party headquarters firebombed, but it is a demonstration of a deep, deep sickness in their culture.

That said, though, I imagine Hamas realise as well as anyone else that now that they are a democratically elected government, letting loose cannons from within their ranks participate in or aid suicide bombers and other terror could legitimately be spun as an outright act of war, which would in turn invite their extermination. So thi scenario:

Israel will have every right to bomb Hamas and all their supporters until they sue for peace.

is also probably unlikely. Incidentally, I think there is a distinction between the state and the party, so the fact that the party engages in armed offensives may not mean that the state does (i.e. it may not be an act of war under international law -- I don't know). But I think that domestically, the Israelis would be willing to engage in a bit of veil-piercing there, so internally it's much the same thing. International law means nothing in that conflict, after all -- the Palestinians have used red cross vehicles to smuggle bombs and weapons and whatnot into Israel proper.

Sloanasaurus said...

Eli, your line of reasoning is logical and I a hope that it may be so. However, it is also true that Hamas could very well be suicidal.

In fact the Hamas government may only last weeks if they start attacking Israel.

Sloanasaurus said...

"...is also probably unlikely. Incidentally, I think there is a distinction between the state and the party, so the fact that the party engages in armed offensives may not mean that the state does..."

This is cleary wrong. Hamas, now is the state. The got the majority vote and will make decisions on behalf of the soverign (the people). If Hamas so chooses, they will lead the state into war with Israel.

The best argument Hamas has is that they are not a state, rather they are a municipality of Israel and they are fighting a civil war....Hmmm

Balfegor said...

Hamas, now is the state.

L'etat c'est moi? I don't think this can be right -- consider the Republican Party. Is the United States answerable for the actions of certain members of the Republican Party, because other members of the Republican Party constitute the majority of elected officials at the national level? My understanding is no, it's not. Not legally, at least.

Stacy said...

Doesn't Israel have an "armed wing"?

I'm just sayin'

I give Bush credit for his comments (that's something you won't here me say too often!) in that he is trying to make the best of a not so great situation and rightfully acknowledging the democratic process even if one doesn't like the results. That is the double-edged sword of democracy, as we are learning in the middle east...

D. Vision said...

The battle lines in the War on Terror are finally being drawn, four and a half years after the world was woken up. This is the beginning of a showdown between the west and Islamic radicalism that is going to make Iraq look like Panama in comparison.

I believe that Iran and Hamas will instigate a full-out war on Israel, and the United States will be forced to resolve the situation the old-fashioned way. The only problem is that the rest of the world doesn't see it coming, and they might not until its too late.

The problem facing the US is whether we will allow the next holocaust to happen (an intentional neglection of our worst fears intended solely to wake the rest of the world up to who are the real bad guys), or whether we will step in to defuse the situation and suffer more criticism and be ostracized as bellicose and dangerous. I think it will probably be the later, and as the middle east develops into unparalleled prosperity in in the next 50 years, American servicemen will spin in their graves as the freedom they bought for millions they never met curse the name of America from the backseats of their limousines.