Hamas Gains Ground —- And Washington Approves

MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANSBuzzfeed reports that during the six-month run-up to this week’s announcement of a Fatah-Hamas unity government, Obama-administration officials were holding “secret back-channel talks with Hamas” to discuss its role in this government.

Buzzfeed quotes a “U.S. official familiar with the talks” as saying: “Our administration needed to hear from them that this unity government would move toward democratic elections, and toward a more peaceful resolution with the entire region.”

State Department deputy spokesman Marie Harf told Buzzfeed: “These assertions are completely untrue. There is no such back channel. Our position on Hamas has not changed.”

In any case, very soon after the new Palestinian government was announced on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry told Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the administration would “work with the new Palestinian government while continuing to watch it closely.”

Israel expressed “deep disappointment.” Its ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, noted that Hamas is “a terrorist organization responsible for the murder of many hundreds of Israelis, which has fired thousands of rockets at Israeli cities, and which remains committed to Israel’s destruction.” Netanyahu recorded a statement saying he was “deeply troubled” by the U.S. decision.

In a letter to Kerry, Republican senators Marco Rubio and Mark Kirk noted that: “Current U.S. law is clear—any government over which an unreformed Hamas exercises undue influence and which emerges from a Fatah/Hamas deal is not an appropriate recipient of U.S. assistance.”

For a few reasons—despite the State Department’s denial—the Buzzfeed report of secret U.S.-Hamas talks has considerable plausibility.

First, there is the alacrity with which Kerry announced the U.S. intention to “work with” the new government. Not even a day or two for deliberations before reaching a decision.

Second is the fact that Hamas is an offshoot of the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood, and the administration’s sympathy for that body is well known. The administration favored its takeover of Egypt from the deposed Mubarak regime, supported it during the year it was in power, and sharply objected to its removal by the Egyptian army backed by a massive popular revolt.

And third, the new Fatah-Hamas government appears carefully crafted to, as Rubio and Kirk put it, make an “end run around” U.S. law. It’s composed of 18 “technocratic” ministers with no explicit Hamas affiliation, and Mahmoud Abbas, leader of Fatah and the West Bank Palestinian Authority, announced that this government would uphold principles of recognizing Israel and avoiding violence.

Even so, as Lee Smith notes, U.S. acceptance of this government

is against the letter of U.S. law—indeed, a number of U.S. laws. The 2006 Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, for instance, prohibits any U.S. funds from going to Hamas, Hamas-controlled entities, or a power-sharing PA government that includes Hamas as a member, or results from an agreement with Hamas. Most recently, the 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act prohibits “assistance to Hamas or any entity effectively controlled by Hamas, any power-sharing government of which Hamas is member, or that results from an agreement with Hamas and over which Hamas exercises undue influence.”

For the Obama administration, though, these may just be legal niceties. The new government is, indeed—as the “official” mentioned to Buzzfeed—supposed to hold democratic elections in both the West Bank and Gaza in six months, enabling both Fatah and Hamas to participate.

Neither the Obama administration nor the European Union—which, of course, also lost no time welcoming the new government—is likely, then, to heed a warning about it by veteran Israeli Arab-affairs analyst Ehud Yaari. Yaari’s warning carries special weight since he knows the turf well and is in no way a member of the Israeli right or a partisan of the Netanyahu government.

Yaari reports that

Hamas leaders held a number of meetings in recent weeks with Iranian officials in Tehran and Hezbollah leaders in Beirut. There, the group’s representatives were advised to adopt a more ambitious plan than merely defending Gaza, namely, by contesting Fatah in its own West Bank territory instead. Hezbollah’s modus operandi in Lebanon—which can be summed up as “add ballots to your bullets” —was pushed as a model to be emulated.

Yaari warns that this could lead to

[t]he emergence of a Hezbollah model in the Palestinian Authority…. If the current electoral and transitional timetable holds, by this time next year Hamas could have not only an intact military force and terrorist agenda in Gaza, but also a solid foothold in the West Bank and at least a say in—if not veto power over—[PA] decisions. In that case, a new system would take shape in the Palestinian territories in which an armed-to-the-teeth political party gradually overshadows the central government and begins to take over numerous institutions.

We may still be quite a way from that point; first, unlike all previous attempts at Fatah-Hamas “unity,” the current arrangement would have to hold water, leading up to the successful conduct of elections. But already at this stage, Yaari asserts,

Western countries quick to endorse the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation should be aware of what is really happening here: Instead of the PA regaining its “southern provinces” in Gaza, it is in fact Hamas reentering the “northern provinces” in the West Bank.

The questions Israel needs to confront are whether that development really troubles “Western countries,” and how it can go about handling the crisis without Western support.

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  • Judahlevi

    The PLO and Hamas will carefully craft the wording of any agreement to keep the US taxpayer’s dollars coming. They do so with Obama’s and the US State Department’s blessing. Obama does not want to cut funding for the PLO no matter what they do.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the State Department told them exactly how they needed to word any agreement so our wasted money (which we borrow) can continue to be sent.

    There is no way that the State Department, or Obama, can monitor exactly how they spend the money. Some of our taxpayer dollars will go to Hamas and Hamas members – which is illegal.

    • EdytaHusseinmuo

      My Uncle Riley got an almost new red GMC
      Canyon just by some parttime working online with a laptop. visit their website F­i­s­c­a­l­p­o­s­t­.­C­O­M­

      • mort

        hey can he get me one too?

  • Gee

    We have the ability to destroy the terrorists and their regimes, where is the will power?

  • Larry Larkin

    HAMAS is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, that’s all that is needed to be known to realise that the obamessiah supports them.

  • El Cid

    Fact–Hamas is popular with the Palestinian Arabs and would win an election.

    Fact–Hamas does not and will not recognize any former treaties with Israel.

    Fact–Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization in the Europe and America.

    Fact–Hamas has the backing of Iran.

    Fact–Hamas’ ideology is driven by religious dogma that calls for establishing an Islamic state over the entire Levant with Jerusalem as its capital. There is NO room for compromise on that objective. They are willing to die for it.

    So, through their persistence, Hamas is driving towards getting recognition from both the US and the EU as a legitimate political movement. This is truly a battle of wits. Since Obama has declared the War on Terror dead, is the next step to remove Hamas from the list or abolish the list? I believe that has been his plan from the beginning.

    Either Mr. Obama does not understand the consequences of his actions, or he wishes for the isolation and final destruction of the Jewish State and its people. So far his policy has fanned the flames of destruction across the region.

    Will the US Congress hold the line or cave?

  • Tzipporah

    Obama will support anything to destroy Israel. The amazing miracle is that Israel has survived this long with so much against it. This alone is truly unbelievable.

    Eric Hoffer Quotes on Israel and the Jews

    Before the Sabbath


    Civilized countries fell over each other to
    court Hitler even as he turned Germany’s Jews into pariahs. The same countries are now falling over each
    other to court the Arabs, who are determined to destroy Israel. The world feels no shame when it betrays
    Jews. It is as if fate has placed the
    Jews outside the comity of mankind.

  • lizwagner2

    Back in 1936, Italy invaded Ethiopia, and viciously slaughtered an estimated 5 million Ethiopians, in part through the widespread spraying of mustard gas from airplanes directly onto people below, as well as through decapitation and other barbaric means. Emperor Haile Selassie famously made one of the great speeches of the 20th century, when he addressed the League of Nations to ask the other members what they planned to do about Italy’s naked, illegal and shocking aggression against His country. The world’s response? Nothing.

    The world will do for Israel what it did for Ethiopia. Everybody knows it, and unless Israel and those of us who support her find better ways to outmaneuver these lying pigs, the world will play its dirty game again.

  • DontMessWithAmerica

    Eventually all of Obama’s secret machinations in the Middle East as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood will be revealed and he will pay for his crimes.

    • J.B.

      I doubt it. America gave up years ago. We’re done.

  • tagalog

    What’s the guy in the photo doing with an M-240 machine gun? Isn’t he Hamas?

    • mort

      not to worry…only purim costume.

  • Juliaghoulia

    It’s pretty clear to me that Obama is Muslim Brotherhood.

  • USARetired

    Obozo should have been put out of office a long time ago, before contaminating the entire Washington populas! Obozo is a devout Muslim, dedicated to the detruction of America, and unfortunatly he is well on his way to success! Washinton knows he is an illegal immigrant, in office illegally, and they do absolutely nothing about it! One simple little est, Obama’s SSN 042-68-4425 was stolen from deceased Harry Bournel, of Connecticut, a State Obozo never ever lived in! If the BUM cannot qualify for a legal SSN, he is not a citizen of this Country !!!

  • Lanna

    Islam thinks their time has come to rule and dominate…they have been given every opportunity, contributions, and support from the American President, who has also tried every trick in the book to divide Jerusalem and push Israelis out of there land, his intentions are obvious by his policies!