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Sunday, May 08, 2011

Clinton's weak statement

Last week, Hillary Clinton made what the media has been trying to sell as a 'strong statement' on Hamas' participation in a joint government with Fatah.
"We obviously are aware of the announcement in Cairo yesterday. There are many steps that have yet to be undertaken in order to implement the agreement. And we are going to be carefully assessing what this actually means, because there are a number of different potential meanings to it, both on paper and in practice.

"We’ve made it very clear that we cannot support any government that consists of Hamas unless and until Hamas adopts the Quartet principles....So we’re going to wait and make our assessment as we actually see what unfolds from this moment on."
Barry Rubin notes the Obama administration's acceptance of Muslim Brotherhood participation in a new government in Egypt and Hezbullah participation in Lebanon's government and says, "watch out."
Yet while Clinton's statement has generally been reported as a strong stance that's not exactly so. If, for example, Hamas nominates ministers who are not proven members of the group (which is what they are saying they'll do) or cooperates with the Palestinian Authority in anything short of an actual coalition government, Clinton's warning would not be triggered. The same is true if Hamas finds some language that pretends to accept the Quartet conditions.

Clinton also signals a hesitation to act now by talking about waiting to see what happens. This stance leaves loopholes in which Hamas can be strengthened and legitimized while the United States does nothing. In short, this is not at all a strong U.S. stance but actually means little. The PA can easily believe that it would lose nothing in terms of U.S. or European support by partnering with Hamas.

But if there is a coalition regime and the U.S. government backs down, accepts it, continues aid, makes fostering talks with Israel a top priority, and putting the main onus on Israel for a lack of progress, that would be a very profound betrayal.
Indeed it would. That's a good argument for putting Hamas and Fatah on the carpet by making an election a precondition to the 'Palestinian state' vote at the UN in September. That vote should be put off until after a 'Palestinian' election. And then come May, the US will be in the middle of Barack Obama's re-election campaign. Heh.

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