Hamas Ignores Regional Calls for Moderation
As the world watches the diplomatic dialogue between Middle East regional powers and the popularly elected Hamas government-in-forming in the Palestinian Territories, the most telling discussions are happening not between Egypt and Hamas in Cairo or Jordan and Hamas in Amman, but rather between Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Damascus, Syria. While Egypt called on Hamas to reverse the rhetoric and recognize Israel and Jordan pleaded with Hamas to renounce violence and engage in the peace process, Hamas has steadfastly and consistently refused any such notions, and instead turned away and extended a hand of cooperation to the leadership of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in hopes of forming a political coalition.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said that, while he does not think Hamas will form a ‘government of terror’, he urges Hamas to recognize Israel as the only way to a peaceful solution. He said to an Israeli newspaper in an interview, “If Hamas wants to establish a government, Hamas must recognize Israel. I don’t want to say what Khaled Meshaal needs to declare and what Hamas needs to do in order for you (Israel) to accept it. But without recognizing Israel, it won’t work.” Hamas has recently claimed that it has a very good relationship with Egypt, but it should be noted that this relationship is with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, from which Hamas was formed as an offshoot in 1987, and not with the government of Egypt.
King Abdullah of Jordan urged Hamas to renounce violence in a meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas. To that end, King Abdullah said “all sides in the Palestinian territories [need to] understand the requirements of this period, deal with it logically, and prove to the whole world that there is a Palestinian partner able to go forward to achieve peace.” King Abdullah has been admirably active in his own country, taking the initiative to actively move toward establishing democracy in Jordan while aggressively fighting terrorism. Both efforts receive far too little praise and attention.
But while Egypt and Jordan have joined the chorus from both inside and outside the Middle East calling on them to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to renounce violence (the chosen polite term for terrorism), Hamas has steadfastly refused these calls at every turn.
Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’ politburo chief in Damascus, said rather clearly that Hamas will never recognize Israel, saying to a Palestinian newspaper, “We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Zionist state that was established on our land.” Yet, inexplicably, as if to offer Israel an existence in the short term only to be destroyed at a later date, Meshaal went on to add, “If you (Israel) are willing to accept the principle of a long-term truce then we will be ready to negotiate with you over the conditions of such a truce.”
Yet even when Saudi Arabia joined the Jordanian King’s call on Hamas to moderate their stance on Israel, Hamas chose instead to meet with the leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in an attempt to bring the even more violent terrorist group into a Hamas-led coalition to govern in the Palestinian Territories. The PIJ confirmed that the meeting took place, but reaffirmed their refusal to work with Hamas in any form of political alliance.
These are the early words and choices of a Hamas that was freely and fairly elected, and tone-setters and indicators of a turbulent future for the Palestinian people. It is widely said that Hamas was elected to eliminate the deep corruption of Fatah, which is true. But it should also be recognized that this does not necessarily mean that Hamas was elected also to eliminate Israel. Yet, the elimination of Israel seems to be their primary governing stance, and their primary campaign pledge of ending corruption decidedly secondary.