April 24, 2006

Why Israel can't (that is won't) talk to Hamas

Here's Ran Hacohen on antiwar.com on the Israel's professed reasons for refusing to talk to Hamas, for starving the Palestinians and for imposing its expansionist solution on the issue of boundaries.
Why We Cannot Talk With Hamas

by Ran HaCohen

Polls show that a majority of the Israelis support negotiations with Hamas, but official Israel refuses to talk to it, at any level. Israel instead launches a worldwide campaign to persuade all countries to boycott Hamas and to join its military and financial blockade on the newly formed Hamas government. If starving the Palestinian people is the outcome, so be it: the Arabs should learn the price of democracy.

Why can't Israel talk to Hamas? Several arguments are given; are they valid – or just excuses?

1. Because They Don't Recognize Israel

Hamas recognizes Israel de facto: unlike many Arab states in the past that officially referred to Israel as "the Zionist entity," Hamas mentions Israel by name in its notorious charter; but it does deny Israel's right to exist, its existence de jure.....

2. Because They Are Terrorists

Legally, this is a very good argument, and has therefore persuaded many countries on the globe to outlaw Hamas. I for one truly believe that terrorism – i.e., violence against noncombatants – is a despicable and unacceptable atrocity. Politics, however, is not about legalism. Israel's political echelon has been doing its utmost to blur the distinction between terrorism and legitimate resistance to the occupation. The Israeli media represent the entire Palestinian resistance to the occupation – by stones or bombs, in the occupied territories or in Israel proper, against soldiers, settlers, or civilians – as "terrorism." Israel's state terrorism – like the present bombing of Gaza, where civilian homes are intentionally within the error-margins of Israel's artillery shelling – are accompanied by propaganda that blurs the concept of terrorism in a similar manner: Israeli politicians and media justify Palestinian civilian casualties by accusing them of supporting violence against Israel, or, in the present case, of not stopping Qassam missile launchers (surely the 9-year-old girl killed in an Israeli shelling last week could have done much more to stop Palestinian militants).

3. Because They're Corrupt

As if these excuses were not enough, there's now a new argument against Hamas: their newly appointed director-general of the police forces in the Interior Ministry, Jamal Abu Samhadana, is described not just as a terrorist, but as "a corrupt Mafioso." I came across this highly original argument in a column by one Moshe Elad (on Hebrew Ynet), a former senior army officer now in academia. (By the way, a military career is an excellent ticket into Israel's universities: the officer's Palestinian collaborators become the professor's "informants.") The argument is interesting because of its ludicrous transparency: the entire PLO leadership during the Oslo years were in fact Mafiosi, using their close, monopolistic economic ties with Israel's business elite to enrich themselves by exploiting the Palestinian masses; Israel cooperated with them eagerly. It was the PLO's corruption, and its selling out of Palestinian interests to Israel, that made Hamas win the Palestinian elections. What disturbs Israel is not the alleged corruption of Hamas, but the fact that, unlike Fatah, Hamas is not willing to be co-opted.

With Whom Will Israel Talk?

The entire Israeli political spectrum – from Likud and the far Right to Meretz and the Zionist Left – are now in love with imposing a diktat (euphemized as "unilateral measures") on the Palestinians, without any negotiations with them (euphemized as "negotiated with the international community").
There's more.

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