NEWS, VIEWS & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Reframing the issue of engaging Hamas

Middle East reality check

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton grabbed headlines with an invitation to Iran to attend a conference on Afghanistan, but the significant Middle Eastern news last week came from Britain. It has “reconsidered” its position on Hezbollah and will open a direct channel to the militant group in Lebanon.

Like Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah has long been treated by the United States as a proscribed terrorist group. This narrow view has ignored the fact that both organizations are now entrenched political and social movements without whose involvement regional peace is impossible.

Britain aligned itself with the U.S. position on Hezbollah, but has now seen its error. Bill Marston, a Foreign Office spokesman, told Al Jazeera: “Hezbollah is a political phenomenon and part and parcel of the national fabric in Lebanon. We have to admit this.”


Precisely the same thing could be said of Hamas in Gaza. It is a political phenomenon, part of the national fabric there. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — To recognize Hamas as a political entity that needs to be engaged is a point that by now should hardly need restating. Anyone who doesn’t get it is clearly impervious to reason. Their unwillingness to concede the argument is not the result of its not having been clearly stated. The issue is not the argument; it’s the implications that flow from the concession.

So let’s take it as given that Hamas is a political entity. There still remain the diplomatic road blocks that the US and its stepchild, The Quartet, throw in the way of engagement: Hamas must recognize Israel, renounce violence, and respect existing agreements.

Maybe its time to throw a new element into the mix. The idea that Hamas is rejectionist and Israel is the willing peace partner has never been credible, but after the war on Gaza it should be recognized as farcical.

If Hamas must be required to renounce violence then Israel must be required to acknowledge that the Palestinians have a right of self-defense. This, we have been repeatedly told is Israel’s inalienable right, so why should it not also be recognized by Israel as an inalienable right of the Palestinians?

If the Palestinians have the right of self-defense, then neither Hamas nor any other group should be expected to renounce violence; they should be expected to renounce aggression.

Galloway gives cars and cash to Hamas in Gaza

Firebrand MP George Galloway on Tuesday donated thousands of dollars and dozens of vehicles to the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip after arriving in an aid convoy.

“We are giving you now 100 vehicles and all of their contents, and we make no apology for what I am about to say. We are giving them to the elected government of Palestine,” Galloway said at a press conference in Gaza City.

Galloway said he personally would be donating three cars and 25,000 pounds to Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya as he dared the West to try to prosecute him for aiding what it considers a terror group.

“I say now to the British and European governments, if you want to take me to court, I promise you there is no jury in all of Britain who will convict me. They will convict you.” [continued…]

George Galloway’s first speech from inside Gaza

Grassroots relief convoy reaches Gaza

On Saturday Feb 14, an improbable journey began. Volunteers from all over the British Isles assembled in central London to drive in the Viva Palestina humanitarian convoy destined for Gaza. More than a hundred vehicles, including a fire engine, a boat, 25 ambulances, lorries and buses, stretching for over a mile, headed south.

After departing from London, over the next 24 days they advanced through Europe and then wound their way along the coast of North Africa. They drove through France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and finally arrived at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza on Sunday. By the time Viva Palestina reached Egypt, with additions in Tunisia and Libya, it had grown to 220 vehicles and stretched for three miles.

The aid initiative delivering vehicles, medical equipment and other forms of humanitarian assistance was spearheaded by the British member of parliament, George Galloway, who was given a hero’s welcome by the Hamas minister of social affairs, Ahmed Kurd, when the convoy entered the Gaza Strip on Monday. [continued…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email