NEWS, VIEWS & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Treating the Hamas-denial complex

Livni: I will topple Hamas regime in Gaza if elected PM

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni vowed on Sunday to end Hamas’s rule in the Gaza Strip if she is elected prime minister in a February election.

“The state of Israel, and a government under me, will make it a strategic objective to topple the Hamas regime in Gaza,” Livni told members of her centrist Kadima party. “The means for doing this should be military, economic and diplomatic.” [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — Did Tzipi Livni make this announcement in front of a crowd of 200,000 supporters (the size of the crowd in Gaza City that came to celebrate Hamas’ 21st anniversary)? Will her Kadima party even be around for 21 years?

The fact that Hamas is still in power is not due to a lack of effort on the part of Israel and its allies to apply a massive amount of pressure to bring the group down. Indeed, not only has Hamas demonstrated its resilience but it has also benefited politically from the pressure.

Having won parliamentary elections in 2006, had Hamas been allowed to govern, its merits and failings as a political organization and governing entity would subsequently have been judged by the Palestinian electorate. But neither Fatah, the Israelis or The Quartet were interested in finding out whether Hamas could pass this democratic test.

But let’s entertain some of Livni’s wishful thinking and suppose that a couple more years of siege and periodic bombardment might do the trick and lead to the collapse of the Hamas government. What then? Is liberal democracy going to rise from the ashes? Probably not. A much more probable course would be something parallel to what’s happened in Somalia. With the ousting of the Islamic Courts Union, taking its place as a political force has been the strengthening and expansion of the more radical Shabaab.

Those who dream of the end of Hamas should fear what the fulfillment of their dreams might bring.

Tony Blair, the dolt with a part-time job as envoy for The Quartet (a job to which he devotes just one week a month) told Haaretz: “I can’t see any basis for an agreement between the international community and Hamas. How do you negotiate the two-state solution with people if they don’t accept your right to exist? That’s the problem. Some people tell me, ‘You spoke with the IRA,’ and I tell them we only did that once they accepted that the solution will only be through peaceful means.”

Is Blair telling a pure, unadulterated lie, or has his political seasoning left incapable of discriminating between deceit and truthfulness?

The British government — as Blair surely knows — started talking to the IRA long before it renounced violence. The Good Friday Agreement enshrined that commitment. The end of violence, as everyone understood, would be among the fruits of successful negotiations — not a pre-condition for entering into talks.

If all sides were willing to simultaneously renounce violence, that would be a fine thing. Language after all is a far more constructive tool than explosives. But of course neither side believes it would benefit from unilateral disarmament. Instead, we can only have a much more ugly process that involves a mix of words and violence. The most practical and immediate goal should be for both sides to explore ways of adjusting the proportions of that mix. Right now, they’re both heading in the wrong direction.

Talk to Hamas

Politicians, generals and the public all know that any substantial incursion into the Gaza Strip will be a catastrophe. Still, no one dares ask why, for heaven’s sake, not try to talk directly with Hamas?

Gaza has an established authority that seized power democratically and then forcibly, and proved it has the power to control the territory. That, in itself, isn’t bad news after a period of anarchy. But Israel and the world don’t like Hamas. They want to overthrow it, but their diabolical scheme isn’t working out. The two-year siege and boycott that included starvation, blackouts and bombardments have produced no sign that Hamas is weaker. On the contrary: The ceasefire was violated first by Israel with its unnecessary operation of blowing up a tunnel.

What everybody already knew to be false – that the political choice of a people could be changed through violence, that the Gazans could be made into Zionists by being abused – was tried anyway. Now we have to finally change direction, to do what nobody has tried before, if only because we have no other choice.

Any excuse against such an attempt does not hold water. Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel; what does it matter? Hamas is a fundamentalist movement? That’s irrelevant. Hamas will decline holding talks? Let’s challenge it. Direct talks with Hamas will weaken Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas? He’s weak anyway.

What does Israel have to lose besides its much-anticipated wide-scale operation that it can carry out anytime? Why not try the diplomatic option before the military one, and not the other way around like we’re used to? [continued…]

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