Condi Rice exhibited the U.S.’ bi-polar approach to the Palestinians by making this remarkable admission (quoted from Ynetnews):
An elected Hamas government in the Palestinian territories may be preferable to the group operating outside the power structure and carrying out terrorist actions, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday.
Rice, speaking to a pro-democracy forum, made the point in arguing that that the United States should not retreat from its advocacy of democracy abroad when elections do not turn out well from the US point of view. Referring to Hamas, Rice said, “I am not so sure that it is better to have these groups running the streets, masked, with guns rather than having them have to face voters and having to deliver.”
While the election that produced the Hamas victory was free and fair, she said Hamas has failed in its responsibility to obtain international acceptability. The result, Rice said, has been that the Palestinian people basically have been deprived of international assistance.
“The interesting point is would we have ever seen Hamas confronted with that dilemma without elections and without coming in to govern,” Rice said.
This actually might’ve been a helpful statement if it’d come closer to the elections Hamas won last winter. It would also be helpful if it represented real U.S. policy. Instead, we support Israel’s effort to criminalize Hamas’ elected representatives by imprisoning them on trumped up charges. We support the strangulation of Gaza by Israel and the rest of the world community. Can someone explain to me how all of this is encouraging Hamas’ continued participation in democratic processes?
So instead of blathering on in nice theoretical phrases that indicate she is not a complete Neanderthal when it comes to understanding the political dynamic, why doesn’t she get off her duff and actually change actual policy. Break the stranglehold on Gaza. Break the diplomatic ostracism and isolation of the Palestinian government. Treat Hamas even minimally in accordance with the sentiments expressed here and the situation might change dramatically for the better.
But as long as she’s only willing to talk and not do, then she might as well be whistling in the wind. That’s how much impact she’ll have.
Given all my cynicism, it occurred to me there may be a way to look at Rice’s statement a little differently. She, of course, would know that the Palestinians intended to announce today that they’d agreed in principle to form a national unity government. It is possible that Rice’s words are meant to prepare the U.S., Israel, the Palestinians and the rest of the world for a gradual shift in approach to Hamas and the PA. She may be anticipating the possibility of the U.S. working with this new government even though it will represent (at least indirectly) the interests of Hamas. If I’m right and U.S. policy does change as the new government is installed, then this would be a very welcome development. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens to real U.S. policy. If it goes in this direction then I’d be happy to take back my other more cynical judgments.
Hat tip, Sol Salbe.
“Can someone explain to me how all of this is encouraging Hamas’ continued participation in democratic processes?”
Sure. Democracy is about more than winning elections and assuming power. It means, among other things, functioning as a state with appropriate accountability and responsibility and not a terrorist or guerilla resistance group. And it means that Hamas accepts Israel’s right to exist. If Hamas doesn’t follow these guidelines, then there is no obligation for the international community to continue to grant them the largesse that they have, in the past, squandered year after year.
Hamas was designated a terrorist group well before they came to power. They don’t get to lift that designation simply because they won an election.
Richard Silverstein says
Says who? Says you? Some expert. First, under yr own definition Palestine cannot function as a democracy since Israel prevents Hamas from governing by arresting 1/3 of its elected representatives. Second, Hamas IS ‘accountable’ under yr own definition since it was elected once & will go back to the voters at the next election (if Israel allows one–Sharon seriously considered busting up the last one).
Who says that a governing party in a democracy must stop resisting a national threat (that would be Israel and the Occupation)? No governing party I can think of in history has ever acquiesced in an enemy dictating its destiny.
Laughable. Where is it written that to be a democracy you must accept the right of an enemy to exist, let alone continue to torment you and decimate yr population? I’m in favor of Hamas recognizing Israel. But not in favor of requiring this BEFORE a negotiation begins. And I’m not alone in this view. Many of Haaretz’s distinguished political commentators take precisely the same view. Israel did not require that the PLO recognize it BEFORE it negotiated with it. Recognition happened as a result of, and after negotiation.
This is typical hack pro-Israel propaganda. We want to get to a result in which we can dismiss Hamas as a partner. So we set up an artificial roadblock we know cannot be crossed. It doesn’t matter that the obstacle was never required of a past enemy group. What matters is that you end with the result that Hamas is disqualified. Amazing how pro-Israel hacks & the Israeli government always manage to manipulate the terms so that they end up having to do nothing for peace–and somehow manage to discredit their opponent (or at least believe they do this in their own minds).
In this argument, I’m comforted that all the propaganda drivel you read above will be rendered irrelevant by the actual resolution of the conflict. I don’t know whether Hamas will continue to run the PA in the next election or after peace is achieved. But I do know that the pro-Israel hacks will be dragged screaming and kicking into the new reality because it will violate every alleged principle they’d argued for in this conflict.
Israelis and Palestinians will live in peace. Palestinians will have free elections and Hamas will run the government unencumbered by Israeli terror if they win. And if they lose, Fatah will run the government. But the key is that the winner will run a real, functioning government. Israel will have withdrawn from West Bank settlements & the Golan. There will be peace with Syria and Lebanon. The Israeli and Palestinian economies will flourish because they will not be at ea. others’ throats trying to kill ea. other.
This prospect will make you sick. That’s why for me it will be even more delicious than the actual peace (which would be delicious enough).