Day By Day

Friday, January 27, 2006

Hamas Victory -- What Does It Mean?

The victory of Hamas, a terrorist organization, in the Palestinian elections is being widely reported in the MSM as a disaster for President Bush. That it may be, but let's wait and see.

For coverage of the elections themselves see NYT here, WaPo here, and BBC here.

At the least this election brushes aside the intricate network of lies and deceptions that has characterized the diplomatic "peace process" for decades. For the first time negotiations will actually involve a party that authentically represents the will of the Palestinian people, assuming of course that Israel and the West are willing to negotiate with a government led by Hamas.

Right now everyone is making brave and ridiculous statements. Israelis say they will never, ever negotiate with Hamas. Hamas is reiterating its calls for Israel's destruction. Bibi Netanyahu is all over the media, calling for no negotiations. Fatah and Hamas partisans are fighting in the street. Things are getting interesting. Israel is scheduled to have elections in two months. The outcome there will have a profound effect on everything else.

Once the excitement abates there will be plenty of time for measured consideration of what it all means, and the battles over that meaning will be fought in the western media with as much ferocity as those taking place in the streets of Ramallah.

Let the games begin.

The BBC argues that Hamas' win invalidates Bush's MidEast policy.
For all President George W Bush's talk of bringing democracy to the Middle East, Hamas' victory in a ballot of the Palestinian people is as awkward a result as he could have expected.
Read it here.

Walter Laqueur writes:

Is the Hamas victory such a terrible disaster? I do not think so. Of course, it would be ideal if there would be a peace party in the Palestinian camp, but there is not nor will there be in the near future....

Hamas is not the party of accommodation, but the party of war; yet it is too weak to wage war at the present time. Hamas got so many votes not because of its ideological manifesto but because Fatah was so widely detested. Being in power it will have to declare a truce, officially or unofficially; heaven knows whether such a truce will hold. (In fact, I would not rule out a split within the ranks of Hamas).

The situation is in some respects similar to that in Ireland—IRA and Sinn Fein—but even in Ireland the transformation of the IRA took a long time. In Israel/ Palestine it will take even longer. In the meantime the policy started by Sharon, to vacate territories, is the only sensible one; it is not doing a favor to Hamas or anyone else but simply retreating from an untenable position.

Read it here.

Pajamas Media has a sampling from the Bloggy masses. [here]

BBC has a roundup of reactions from world leaders. [here]

The National Review gets in touch with its Leninist side and proclaims the Hamas victory a good thing because "worse is better." [here]

Interestingly Laqueur and the National Review writer [Emanuele Ottolenghi] both see this as a good thing from diametrically opposite positions. Lacuqeur says that this will force Israel to abandoned the deceptions and illusions that have guided its policy in the past, while Ottolenghi argues the same for Hamas. Let's hope that both are right. The diplomatic maisma of the "peace process" has obscured perspectives in this region for far too long and has allowed, even encouraged, all of the participants to adopt unrealistic positions. It is time, finally, for some clarity.

No comments: