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Sunday, May 08, 2011

How to respond to the Hamas-Fatah unity pact

The Optimistic Conservative argues that the Hamas-Fatah alliance should be put to the test.
This proposal was made at a panel presentation last week in Los Angeles. Rick Richman, a fellow blogger who runs Jewish Current Issues and contributes to Commentary’s “contentions” blog, offered the suggestion as a panel member at the Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors-LA event, and authorized me to blog about it afterward. (Video here. The whole event is well worth viewing; Rick’s presentation starts around 51:00.)

It’s a simple suggestion, but exactly right: take Fatah and Hamas at their word that they intend to hold an election in the next year, and make that election the contingency on which any other official action hinges.

This proposal is spot-on for several reasons. The first is that it fits the national character of both the US and Israel. It shifts the central question from whether we believe in the intentions or good faith of Hamas and Fatah to whether they will live up to a concrete, measurable obligation that almost everyone on the planet gives lip-service to.

It is out of character for Western governments to suffer policy to be made by default, as a reaction to campaigns of accusation, terrorism, and public tantrums. Our Western idea is that governments must act positively and concretely, with integrity and accountability. Neither the US nor Israel should make it policy to be in a symmetrical food fight with Hamas and Fatah, trying to see who can make the most kitchen garbage stick on the other and who can induce the most emotional partisanship. Other than terrorism, that’s the only method Hamas has; but it should not be our main effort.

Pointing out the truth about Hamas and Fatah has a place, certainly. Hamas is an unregenerate terrorist organization, and Fatah retains its position as the core of the Palestinian Authority only because it has had the luxury of avoiding tests of power. The stability enforced by Israel, and the territorial division of Gaza and the West Bank, are what guarantee that. This is not a union of leaders ready for functioning, well-behaved statehood.
Read the whole thing.

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