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Hamas All Smiles and Ready for Talks and Cash

“The previous Palestinian administration recognized Israel. And so? What was the result? Has anything changed?… It would be a mistake to insist that the problem is in the recognition (of Israel) by Hamas.”
— Hamas Spokesman Khaled Meshaal, 01Mar06

Amid consistent refusal to amend the Hamas charter explicitly calling for the destruction of the state of Israel, Hamas leaders now tighten their ties and button their jackets while saying nearly everything short of any such fundamental change in order to placate a Western international community seemingly unwilling to abandon funding for a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.

Ismail HaniyaHedging their bets, Hamas has been playing to their Arab neighbors for financial support amid the questionable future of the cash supply traditionally received from the West. Incoming Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, called for support from members of the Arab League summit in Khartoum, Sudan. While he made calls for Arab contributions of $130 million per month, Khaled Meshaal reminded them that the Hamas-run PA requires upwards of $170 million to operate. While the Arab League has promised (as they have in the past) to draft a resolution pledging support, not many expect them to live up to their pledges (as they have also balked in the past). The Arab League is expected to pledge $55 million per month, but have a history of meeting only 30% of their stated pledges for Palestinians.

With little tangible support from their own Arab brothers expected, Hamas has begun to offer refined public words calling for new talks with The Quartet and the headlines that followed are predictably optimistic, including Hamas ready for international MidEast peace push and Hamas Gov’t Seeks Mideast Mediator Talks.

Caveat Emptor.

Hamas seeks the appearance of peace talks and the re-opening of the flow of international funding. Ask them about their chart, which still calls for the destruction of the state of Israel. Or, more readily visible, examine the quotes beneath the optimistic headlines.

Incoming Palestinian Prime Minister Haniyeh said first, “Our government will spare no effort to reach a just peace in the region, putting an end to the occupation and restoring out rights.”

He quickly followed that with an outrageous claim that Hamas has never supported terrorism, much less committed a terrorist act. “We have never been supporters of war, terrorism or bloodletting. Instead it is the Israeli occupation that waged all forms of terrorism against our people in chasing them out of their homeland, besieging it and starving it,” he then proclaimed.

Khaled Meshaal pointed a thinly veiled finger at his Arab brothers in the Arab League when he said, “We hope that our Arab brothers would provide this support and provide it quickly because unfortunately there has been a shortage and lack of commitment.”

Speaking to the new Hamas overtures to lure talks with The Quartet (EU, US, Russia, and the UN), Haniyeh added, “The government is ready for dialogue with the Quartet, and looking for every possible way to end the conflict and the occupation.”

Well, perhaps not every possible way. Two ways for Hamas to possibly end the conflict come to mind readily.

Perhaps Hamas leaders might consider arresting terrorists who murder or seek to murder Israeli (or any other) civilians, contrary to the pledge of the incoming Interior Minister Saeed Seyam who vowed to instead protect terrorists, proclaiming proudly, “Saeed Seyam did not come to the government to revive any security cooperation or to protect the occupation and their settlers. I came to protect our people and their fighters, to protect their trees, their properties and their capabilities.”

And, of course, Hamas might consider removing the call for the destruction of Israel. Not simply by removing the words from their printed charter, but more importantly by expunging it from their belief system and genuinely accept a two-state solution. Neither of these two things are likely to occur, though Iran-like gestures for ‘talks about talks’ will not be in short supply. As the openling quote from Khaled Meshaal illustrates, Hamas truly sees negotiation to be a dead-end proposition and recognition of Israel out of the question. Today’s gestures to the contrary are calculated for Western consumption. Indeed, Haniyeh tipped his own hand openly denying Hamas’ past or present support for terrorism.

So it is with great trepidation that Western observers should receive the news that Hamas is now seeking peace talks. The purpose of any such talks, in light of the two above very telling Hamas stances, is not to achieve any peace, but rather to resume the flow of international monetary relief in the form of massive cash grants.

Feedback

While it is true that Hamas hasn't changed their words, they have also been fairly diligent in observing their cease-fire for the past year.

Given the options of a corrupt and impotent Fatah government, which refuses to crack down on those who use force against Israel, or allowing the only Palestinean organization I can see that isn't corrupt and can control its forces--I'm inclined to wait and see what Hamas actually does.

The option of continued sporadic, unorganized violence is an option that can be revisited any time.

We've already heard the words from Arafat, but they were only words. Actions count more than words.

In the same way only Nixon could go to China, maybe only Hamas can make peace with Israel.

An interesting indication of Hamas's intention would be to consider what is being broadcast on palestinian television.
Teaching children hope rather than hate would be an encouraging first step.

Terry, unfortunately, Hamas has NOT kept to the cease-fire. The only reason you think that is because of what is not being reported. Hamas has not been able to carry out another major terrorist attack but not for lack of trying. The Israeli Defense Forces have done a phenomenal job in preventing attacks through dillegent intellgence work. Hamas has had to reconstruct their entire structure because of the Israeli Army. The IDF has put the Hamas leadership on the defensive and in a situation where they're fighting for survival. When your life might be ended by a missile at any given time, you're not worrying about carrying out an attack. There is also the fact that Hamas has been involved in fighting a civil war within Gaza in a fight to wrench control from Fatah and Islamic Jihad. This civil war has been grossly under reported.

Finally, the rockets being fired into Israel has also gone largely unreported. These rockets have been fired, largely, by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. So, please, do not be fooled that because Hamas' actions have been un-reported that they have kept to this cease-fire. There is no cease-fire. Hamas and IJ have been violating it under the media radar before the ink dried on the cease-fire agreement.
-OC

Olah,
Thanks for your detailed and considered response. I am aware that the media reports are sporatic, incomplete, and usually biased.

I am under the impression that the Islamic Jihad and Hamas are not affiliated (in the sense that one controls the other), but rather share similar goals--like the KKK and the neo-nazi skinhead movement in the US.

According to this Wikipedia article on the last year of the Infitada, Hamas has claimed responsibility for some attacks, but the largest and most frequent attacks are from IJ and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.

I've been interpretting Hamas' relatively few attacks over the past year as a lack of control over Hamas members, rather than a lack in capability. (I have an unsubstantiated idea that Hamas is close to the largest militant organization in Palestine.)

Now that you point it out, however, I don't seem to recall as many IJ or Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades leaders getting killed or blown up.