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Ear to the Ground

Hamas Win Makes Mockery of Bush’s Fantasies

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Posted on Jan 26, 2006
Wesam Saleh / MAANnews

Hamas supporters, carrying their party’s flags, attend a Jan. 20 campaign rally organized by the Hamas movement for the Palestinian legislative elections in Gaza.

Update: More reactions from across the spectrum…

From the National Post: A day after Hamas swept to an upset victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, former US President Jimmy Carter on Thursday said that Wednesday’s voting had been orderly and fair. “The elections were completely honest, completely fair, completely safe and without violence,” the former president said. | story

From Juan Cole: “Bush pushes for elections, confusing them with democracy, but seems blind to the dangers of right-wing populism.” | excerpt at Cole’s website or full-text (registration required) at Salon.

More reactions:

The president won’t deal with Hamas; neither will Israel.

BBC: 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. The Bush administration has made it clear it has no intention of dealing with a party that has “one foot in politics and another in terror”. | story

Electronic Intifada (a Palestinian-oriented site): “Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian Authority legislative elections has everyone asking “what next”? The answer, and whether the result should be seen as a good or bad thing, depends very much on who is asking the question.

Although a Hamas success was heavily trailed, the scale of the victory has been widely termed a “shock.” Several factors explain the dramatic rise of Hamas, including disillusionment and disgust with the corruption, cynicism and lack of strategy of the Fatah faction which has dominated the Palestinian movement for decades and had arrogantly come to view itself as the natural and indisputable leader. | column

Haaretz (an Israeli newspaper): Presenting, the unthinkable.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may we introduce ... Hamas - the new Likud.

It’s 1977 all over again, People of Israel. Once again, everything we knew, is wrong.

Sound familiar? The party in power, the only party which has ever held power, the party which made a people, has shown itself to be bottomlessly corrupt. It has long been unresponsive to crying social needs. It has proven incapable of making peace. It is ineffectual at bringing its people security. | column

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By Tony N, January 29, 2006 at 11:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Is it a double standard to place restrictions on foreign aid to the Palestinians? Over the years the US government has provided Israel about $100 billion in aid and loan guarantees. Among other things, Israel has used this foreign aid (a) to become the world’s fourth most powerful conventional and nuclear armed military and (b) to maintain their illegal occupation, settler colonization, violent oppression and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians (including excessive force, “Separation Wall”, illegal Jewish-only settlements, house demolitions, land grabs, deportation, checkpoints, torture, water crisis, assassinations, harassment, discriminatory road regimes, settler attacks, unemployment and poverty, curfews, East Jerusalem, etc.)

Incredibly, Israel now wants the US government to pay for its “withdrawal” from the Gaza Strip.  In other words, Israel is asking the US to pay to fix the crimes Israel voluntarily continued to commit over a 38 year span—Israel’s illegal occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel illegal settling of its colonists in Gaza, since 1967, are both in violation of international laws. “American and Israeli diplomats have recently revived discussions over our potential financial support of Israel’s August withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.  Last summer, Israel sought $2 billion, but suspended its request following the Katrina disaster. With popular and congressional attention to New Orleans now dissipating, Israel is again asking American taxpayers for help, although it has scaled back to $1.2 billion in light of popular sentiment and signals from Congress. This amount is supplemental to Israel’s share of our regular foreign aid that has run $3 billion to $4 billion annually for decades.”  Imagine Saddam Hussein asking US tax payers for $2 billion to withdraw from Kuwait in 1991 and dismantle illegal “Iraqi-only” colonies from prime Kuwaiti land. As I recall, the US bombed withdrawing Iraqi troops and civilians on the “Highway of Death”.
http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0108-21.htm 
http://deoxy.org/wc/warcrime.htm

Religious studies professor Ira Chernus: “Israeli leaders, like most Jews everywhere, refused to accept the basic reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Terrorism” is not the root of the problem. It’s only a symptom. The underlying disease, the real root of the problem, is that one nation is militarily occupying and ruling (for all practical purposes) another nation.”
http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0127-34.htm

Hamas’ suicide bombings were often a response to far worse state/settler terrorism by Israel. The Palestinian National Authority claims that, for example, over 793 Palestinian children have been killed since September 2000 (B’tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, has evidence of Israel’s military covering up its murder of Palestinian children – see below). In 1994, the very first Hamas suicide bombing inside Israel was provoked by an Israeli settler’s massacre of 29 Palestinian Muslims inside a mosque.  In 2001, after almost two years of quiet, Hamas and other Palestinian groups re-started suicide bombings in Israel in response to Israel’s massive brutal assault since September 29, 2000, which killed over 400 Palestinians in six months and wounded over 11,000.
http://www.btselem.org/English/Press_Releases/20011113.asp
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=437895&contrassID=1&subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/nueva_web/infos_materials/reports/pnic_report.htm

In any case, Israel finally got what it originally wished for: Hamas as the dominant force in Palestinian politics, instead of the PLO. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Israel helped fund and aid the development of Hamas, in order to use it as an Islamic fundamentalist counterweight in Palestine to the more secular PLO led by Yasser Arafat and other exiles operating outside Palestine.  British journalist Robert Fisk: “Back in 1983, Hamas talked to the Israelis. They spoke directly to them about the spread of mosques and religious teaching. The Israeli army boasted about this on the front page of the Jerusalem Post. At that time, it looked like the PLO was not going to abide by the Oslo resolutions. There seemed nothing wrong, therefore, with continuing talks with Hamas. So how come talks with Hamas now seem so impossible? Not long after the Hamas leadership had been hurled into southern Lebanon, a leading member of its organization heard me say that I was en route to Israel. “You’d better call Shimon Peres,” he told me. “Here’s his home number.” The phone number was correct. Here was proof that members of the hierarchy of the most extremist movements among the Palestinians were talking to senior Israeli politicians. The Israelis know well the Hamas leadership. And the Hamas leadership know well the Israelis. There is no point in journalists like us suggesting otherwise.”
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/012806I.shtml

The Israeli people have to choose whether to continue war, occupation and land grabs, instead of dialogue and a fair settlement with the Palestinians.  It’s interesting that an Israeli newspaper poll showed 48% of Israelis favored talking to a Hamas-led Palestinian government, while 43% were opposed. Whether the Israeli government chooses to act according to the will of its citizens is another matter.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3553820a12,00.html
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article341721.ece

Like a broken record, Israel has been claiming that it has “no partner” in the “peace talks”.  As Chernus notes: “Israel and the U.S. are busy making pompous statements that they simply will not deal with a government that aims to overthrow another nation and relies on armed violence to do it… By the same principle, of course, a Hamas-led government would have to refuse to deal with the U.S. until its troop leave Iraq — and with Israel until its troops leave Palestine. If you want to see leaders who rely on violence to overthrow and dominate other nations, you need look no further than the U.S. and Israel. I hope that the Hamas PR machine can see these self-righteous U.S. and Israeli pronouncements for what they are—softballs than an effective Hamas government can smack right out of the park. I hope they show up the U.S. and Israeli hypocrisy, early and often.”

The real problem is that the Palestinians have no peace partner in the Israeli government (although the Geneva Accords prove that there are Israelis, as well as Palestinians, who can be peacemakers).  As well, the pro-Israel US government is not an impartial peace broker/arbitrator.  Israel and the US will deal only with quisling Palestinian representatives—regardless whether they are democratically-elected or not—who are willing to give up Palestinian rights and give in to disproportionate Israel’s demands.

According to Israeli Ran HaCohen: “ “The Arab states and the Palestinians have in fact acknowledged Israel’s right to exist in peace, if it withdraws from the occupied Palestinian territories taken in 1967; whereas Israel wants to keep these territories, though it doesn’t quite know how.” It is indeed impressive how successful Israeli propaganda and the Western media are in obscuring the simple fact that ongoing conflict is the result of a voluntary Israeli policy, in which Arabs and Palestinians play a subsidiary role.” The factual history shows that Israel and pre-Israel Zionist militants provoked or started every Israeli-Arab war since from 1948 (with the exception of the 1973 Yom Kippur war started by Egypt and Syria because Israel refused to make peace and return occupied Arab lands in accordance with UN resolutions).
http://antiwar.com/hacohen/?articleid=3660

According to the Saudis, the U.S. paved the way for Hamas victory. “A confidential Saudi report prepared just weeks before the Palestinian elections predicted a Hamas victory in Gaza and the West Bank and puts the blame on the United States: “By failing to strengthen (President Mahmoud )Abbas’s position, the U.S. has paved the way for a Hamas victory… American policies in the region, especially its unfettered support for Israel and its designation of Hamas as a terror organization, complicate the situation, and demonstrate that the Bush administration is clearly out of touch. Thus, they are unable to understand the situation from the Palestinian perspective,” states the Saudi report. However, according to unnamed Hamas officials cited in the Saudi report, “the only way that the organization can moderate its approach and still save face would be to resurrect the 2002 Abdallah peace initiative.” This is in reference to a peace proposal put forward by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, then Crown Prince, during an Arab summit in Beirut in which he was prepared to offer Israel full recognition and normal relations in return for Israeli withdrawal from all territories occupied since 1967 and return of the Palestine refugees to Israel.”
http://washtimes.com/upi/20060127-054934-1354r.htm

For 58 years, the Palestinian people’s basic aspiration has been frustrated—to live in a Palestinian nation free from Israeli colonization, occupation and/or subjugation. Had Palestinian refugees and exiles been allowed to vote, as they should have been, the Palestinian voice might have been even more emphatic. The combination of Israel’s colonial policies, actions and rejectionism and Arafat/Abbas’s inability to get Israel/US to budge have motivated the Palestinians to seek a more radical, fundamentalist alternative to Fatah. Israel has undermined the Fatah-based Palestinian Authority for over 10 years, especially since 2000. When Sharon and Bush demonized and refused to deal with Arafat, and when Sharon fed scraps to Arafat’s successor Mahmoud Abbas, Israel increased the possibility that one day it would have a Hamas government leading the Palestinians. Today, angry Fatah protesters in Gaza are demanding the resignation of Abbas and the old guard of Fatah.  Even if Fatah is returns to power in the future, there is no guarantee that some of Fatah’s young guard would be as predictable as Abbas or Arafat. (A triumph for Sharon: Hamas’s victory is the inevitable result of the failure to do anything about the oppression which Palestinians suffer)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1696732,00.html

Now Israel will have to deal with a disciplined Hamas leadership that will probably wait until it receives something positive from Israel.  After all, Hamas has mostly maintained its one-year old ceasefire, despite Israel’s provocations.  But I doubt Hamas will endorse even the Arafat-led Palestinian position at Taba in 2001. Hamas would probably accept nothing less than a complete end to the Israeli occupation and removal of all or most of Israel’s illegal settlement colonies and dismantling of Israel’s Separation Wall inside the Palestinian territories. As for Israel, it has indicated it will prevent newly-elected Hamas lawmakers from traveling freely between the Gaza Strip and West Bank.  I expect Israel to eventually use the Hamas card as a pretext for accelerating the building of Israel’s Separation Wall, provoke Hamas or Islamic Jihad to respond to an Israeli attack, implement a massive Israeli military operation to occupy, ethnically cleanse and annex 50 to 60% of the occupied territories that are desired by Israel, and arbitrarily set Israel’s final borders with US diplomatic help in the UN.  If Hamas or any Palestinian group tries to defend Palestinian territory from being annexed, Israel will cry “terrorism”.
.
Some links:

Gilbert Achcar: First Reflections On The Electoral Victory Of Hamas
http://www.juancole.com/2006/01/achcar-on-hamas-guest-editorial-first.html

Dilip Hiro: The Rise of Political Islam: The Palestinian Election and Democracy in the Middle East
http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0125-24.htm

Interview with Hamas leader
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11695.htm
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060128/wl_mideast_afp/mideastpalestinianpoliticshamas

Arabs see US and Israel changing stance on Hamas
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006\01\27\story_27-1-2006_pg4_7

Some Arab press comments
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&article_id=21779

Gilad Atzmon: Where to now, Palestine? Some reflections
http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/2006/01/gilad-atzmon-where-to-now-palestine.html 

The Hamas victory: democratization – but not what the US expected
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article4431.shtml

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By R. A. Earl, January 28, 2006 at 4:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Former President Jimmy Carter has called for funding to continue to Palestine for the sake of the people despite the Hamas win.

Perhaps all “foreign aid” should be provided only IN KIND until a Hamas government somehow ensures that not one cent of any “foreign aid” will be used to build any kind of weapon or ammunition for it.

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By Tony N, January 27, 2006 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is the Palestinians’ choice who they chose to lead them. Palestinians should be proud of how they conducted themselves during the elections and of their high voter turnout. Palestinians have outshone Israel and most Western countries even in this aspect of democracy, relative to the obstacles the Palestinians have to face that sovereign nations do not have to deal with.  For example, Israel allowed only about 6% (or 6,300) of the Palestinian electorate in occupied East Jerusalem to vote in their city in the Palestinian parliamentary elections.  And 14 of the newly-elected Palestinian MPs remain in Israeli prisons, including Marwan Barghouti.
.
In reality, Hamas will have only as much power as Israel and the US allows them to have. In any case, Hamas is not running a “state” until the occupied Palestinian people actually have a state to run.  This was not the elections for the parliament and prime minister of the state of “Palestine”.  No independent Palestinian state exists. The Occupied Palestinian Territories, where the elections took place, have been under brutal Israeli military occupation since 1967 — this fact isn’t changed by the elections. Elections without sovereignty does not equal the kind of democracy we enjoy in Western countries. Only a minority of Palestinians — those in the Occupied Palestinian Territories — were eligible to vote (unlike the elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, Palestinians living abroad as refugees or exiles were barred from voting).  In reality, Hamas will control the Palestinian Authority (PA), a body created under the defunct Oslo Agreements signed by the PLO and Israel in 1993. Before 2000, Israel and the US allowed the PA to administer limited aspects of Palestinian life (education, health, municipal and taxation services) in exchange for guaranteeing security to Israel, mainly by cracking down on Palestinian militants. Since 2000, the PA has been under attack by Israel. Yasser Arafat, the late PA president, spent the last years of his life under “house arrest”. 
.
Incredibly, the election of Hamas is being blamed for impacting the “peace process”. If Israel and certain Western governments immediately choose not to deal with legitimately-elected Palestinian leaders before they even announce their intentions, then the problem lies with Israel and its Western allies. It’s just another in a long string of pretexts Israel has used since the 1970s to avoid or reject peace.
http://www.counterpunch.org/avnery01232006.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/comment/0,10551,1696158,00.html?gusrc=rss http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060126/ts_nm/mideast_israel_hamas_dc
http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=2874856&PageNum=0
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060126/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_mideast
http://fairuse.100webcustomers.com/fairenough/nyt010.html
.
The Israel/US strategy to deal with an elected Hamas appears to be to cut off funding of the Palestinian Authority, which relies largely on Western aid and tax revenues.
http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,397637,00.html
http://www.abc15.com/news/morenews/index.asp?did=24330
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1137605924691&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull
,
According to the Jerusalem Post, a few days before the elections, former US president Jimmy Carter expressed optimism over Hamas’s participation in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. Carter told CNN in an interview that although Hamas were “so-called terrorists,” so far “there have been no complaints of corruption against [their] elected officials.” He conceded that “there is an element within Hamas who deny Israel’s right to exist,” but compared the current situation to negotiations with the PLO, which was still outlawed as a terrorist organization during his presidency. He drew an additional comparison with Menachem Begin’s rise to Israel’s premiership in the seventies. “The Irgun, to which Begin belonged, was also characterized as a terrorist organization,” he noted.
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1137605878897&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull
.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas suggested that future negotiations with Israel would be conducted through the Palestine Liberation Organization, a possible bypass to the elected Hamas-led government. Abbas is leader of the PLO in addition to his role as PA chairman. “We are going to reactivate the role of the PLO,” Abbas said.  Does Palestinian opinion matter to Abbas?
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/675422.html

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By Tony N, January 27, 2006 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Regardless of the Palestinian elections, the effects of Israel’s colonial occupation of the Palestinian people will continue. Israeli troops have just killed a nine-year old Palestinian girl in the Gaza Strip, to add to their total of over 700 Palestinian children killed since September 2000.  During this period, more Palestinian children have been murdered by Israelis than all Israeli civilians (including adults) have been murdered by Palestinians.
http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,17952876%5E1702,00.html

Regarding the recent Palestinian elections, here are related articles for those interested:

Palestine Votes: Mr. President, the Terrorists Have Won
http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0126-31.htm
.
Hamas scores stunning win - but what happens now?
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article341263.ece
.
Christian candidate on Hamas ticket
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/ACC5E814-DB9A-4C8C-9C5C-D2F5795720BA.htm
.
World Leaders Move Quickly to Exert Pressure on Hamas
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&article_id=21742
.
Palestinian Elections: Forcing the West to awake to the voices of the people
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article4424.shtml
.
Palestinian street voted for change
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/CF148743-EFB9-462D-BE67-CAB8366CEFD3.htm
.
Hamas Election Victory: A Vote for Clarity
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article4425.shtml
.
Key Palestinian figures speak out
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/760D299B-D450-4BCE-897D-81CCCC7D7A5F.htm
.
Uri Avnery: Why Did Hamas Win?:
http://www.ramallahonline.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=2367
.
Juan Cole: How do you like your democracy now, Mr. Bush?
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11686.htm
.
Analysts: Win rocks political landscape
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/0A9856A9-9F5F-49D6-BFF3-1C7091136234.htm
.
Jim Lobe: Hamas Upset Rattles Bush Strategy
http://www.antiwar.com/lobe/?articleid=8450
.
Gary Leupp: Hamas’s Victory: “the Power of Democracy”
http://www.counterpunch.org/leupp01272006.html
.
Dr. Barghouthi: Israel no longer only democracy in Middle East
http://www.ramallahonline.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=2366
.
Samar Assad: A New Political Landscape in Palestine
http://www.counterpunch.org/assad01272006.html
.
Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs: A six per cent democracy
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11676.htm
.
Glen Rangwala: The murder of Ahmad Yassin: why it matters
http://middleeastreference.org.uk/pn040403.htm
.
Is Democracy Empowering Islamists?
http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0127/p01s01-usfp.html

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