EU Weighs In About Hamas

The EU weighs in about Hamas running in Palestinian elections and participating within a ruling Palestinian administration. (see here)

I like the stance of the EU on this issue. It is a nuanced position and pretty closely matches my own position.

The EU is not saying Hamas should not be entitled to participate in elections. It is saying that if Hamas happens to win the elections, or even if it is included in a ruling coalition of the government (without renouncing violence and accepting Israel's right to exist) they are probably going to cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority.

While some might call this a hypocritical stance, (as in they might say it is hypocritical to allow the Palestinians to vote for whoever they want, but if they elect those we do not agree with they will have to pay a price), I do not look at it that way. I think "free and fair" elections should be granted to the Palestinians. It will help us to measure exactly where the Palestinian people stand. However if they elect a government that seeks to wage war on the Israeli people, then I think the rest of the world has the right to treat that government as being at war with Israel. I probably would even be willing to go further then the EU in that I would probably be more willing to turn a blind eye as Israel waged war with Palestine.

Mahmoud Abbas is sticking to his guns and is insisting that Hamas be allowed to participate. If this happens I think that a great deal of responsibility is going to fall on the shoulders of the Palestinian voter. They will have the choice of voting for war (Hamas) or voting for a negotiated peace.

I think the Palestinians should have this right. In fact I think we should demand that the Palestinian voter face this choice. However I do not then want to hear any squawking from the Palestinians if they vote for war and we give them what they voted for.


Blogger Michael said...

Things are not simple as they seem. Hamas should be allowed in the elections, but for more reasons than you state.

Probably the most appropriate analogy of Hamas in the Western world is the IRA (Irish Republic Army) and their political arm Sinn Fein. Hamas too has both a paramilitary and political arm, though this distinction I think is lost to many people in the West.

The reason why so many Palestinians support Hamas (just like why so many Irish supported the IRA) is not that they support the acts of violence... rather, that Hamas' non paramilitary arm provides (desperately) needed social services as well as a poltical voice. Though it is a much overused saying, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter".

Yes, for Hamas to gain international respectability, it needs to disarm/shed it's paramilitary factions, just as Sinn Fein divorced itself from the IRA. However, one does have to be pragmatic. Engaging with political moderates is likely to be much more sucessful in the long term (and the long term goal is Arab-Israeli peace) rather than fostering the conditions where the militants rule.

Michael Tam

12/20/2005 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...

I do not think attempts to compare Hamas and the IRA holds up. The IRA at least only wanted the liberation of Northern Ireland, they had no designs on Wales, Scotland or England.

Hamas wants to drive the Jews into the sea. They are unwilling to accept that Israel has a right to exist.

12/20/2005 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Hamas talks big but context is everything. Hamas is a small fry paramilitary organisation. Israel proper has the most powerful army in the Middle East one of the most powerful armies in the World.

Michael Tam

12/21/2005 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...

Hamas is a "small fry" which exercises the weapon of suicide bombings. Asking the people of Israel to put up with suicide bombings into perpetuity is just unreasonable.

What some people in Israel want is unreasonable. The majority of Israelis have proven they are willing to "trade land for peace". Ariel Sharon has even divorced himself from the right wing extremists in Likud by forming the more centrist party Kadima.

Not everything Sharon wants is reasonable, and not everything Fatah wants is reasonable. The differences might be overcome through negotiations.

I do not think it is right for "the world" to condemn Israel for violating the Geneva Convention while giving a wink and a nod to Hamas while they conduct suicide bombings which themselves grossly violate the Geneva Convention.

Israel is willing to trade land for peace. It is unreasonable to expect Israel to trade land for continuing war and suicide bombings. Hamas wants to drive the Jews into the sea. I think Hamas is unreasonable.

Of course Hamas can change too. Sharon was willing to change, how about Hamas?

12/21/2005 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I do not think it is right for "the world" to condemn Israel for violating the Geneva Convention while giving a wink and a nod to Hamas while they conduct suicide bombings which themselves grossly violate the Geneva Convention.

That, is somewhat revisionist. The "world" has been giving Israel the "wink and nod" for decades. Israel has been on the receiving end of several UN Security Council resolutions, not to mention that their continued occupation of Palestinian lands is considered illegal by international law. And yet, for a country to even suggest that Israel should "follow international law" in these issues would be considered to be "anti-Israel rhetoric" and some people will even raise the "anti-Semetism" flag.

I agree that both sides need to follow common sense and obey laws but at some level pragmatism must take hold for the purposes of peace.

In a recent poll, about 50% of Israelis actually support that idea that Hamas should be allowed in the Palestinian elections meaning that even within Israel itself the viewpoints are much divided.

Michael Tam

12/23/2005 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...

I understand the "you're an anti-semite" flag. I consider myself as a "moderate" when it comes to Israel, yet when I have dared to voice opinions like I state here, I have been accused of being an anti-semite.

I do not consider my viewpoint revisionist. Israel has been "at war" with groups of people, and nations, that really have been trying to drive them into the sea. As in the case of Egypt and the Sinai Penisula, they have been willing to trade land for peace when the other party has shown a willingness to lay down their arms and recognize Israel's right to exist. This whole thing started when the Arab nations would not accept the 1948 United Nations partition plan.

Israel's "occupation" of the West Bank and Gaza is not illegal. Now the "settlements" in the occupied land probably are illegal, but the occupation itself is not. Some Israelis even suggest Israel has the right to "transfer" Arabs out of the "occupied territories" which would be a gross violation, however they seem to be a small minority, albeit a very vocal minority.

You stated: "I agree that both sides need to follow common sense and obey laws but at some level pragmatism must take hold for the purposes of peace."

I agree with that statement although I do not think I agree with what you meant. I think it is pragmatic that if we are going to insist that Israel engage in peace negotiations we must also insist that Israel will actually receive "peace" from the negotiations.

If there is not a chance for peace, then the "occupation" can continue, although the policy of "settlements" in the "occupied territory" should end.

12/24/2005 06:21:00 AM  

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