The biggest surprise about the big win by the terrorist organization Hamas in last week's Palestinian legislative elections is that so many people were surprised.
Worse than denial, is denying you have been in denial. Despite the Hamas and Palestinian Authority charters calling for Israel's destruction; despite unilateral concessions and actions by Israel; despite negotiated "land for peace" deals, which only Israel has kept; despite massive amounts of U.S. and European aid, much of which was funneled into Swiss bank accounts under the regime of the late Yasser Arafat; despite pressure and cajoling and confidence-building measures, none of it mattered. Hamas won anyway.
Now comes more denial. One hears Westerners say things like "Hamas now must deliver because people are most concerned with jobs, running water and trash pickup so they will have to moderate their views." There is talk of cutting off U.S. and Western European aid to the Palestinians because of the Hamas victory. Do people sincerely believe that a religious mandate can be modified by economic threats, or that Hamas cannot get funding from others, like Iran?
The "Quartet," comprised of the United Nations, European Union, Russian Federation and the United States, issued a statement that mentioned the "aspirations for peace and statehood" of the Palestinian people. Expressing the obvious, the statement continued, ".there is a fundamental contradiction between armed group and militia activities and the building of a democratic State." If the Quartet had not been in the state of denial, it would have seen the contradiction of attempting to make peace between Israel and people who are not interested in a "two-state solution," but in a region without Israel.
Why should Hamas listen to the Quartet? The Quartet has repeatedly demanded that the Palestinian Authority disarm terrorist groups before negotiations proceed, but the terrorists have continued attacking Israeli civilians. Why shouldn't they when it appears the strategy is producing results for them?
Following the election, President Bush told a news conference, "I don't see how you can be a partner in peace if you advocate the destruction of a country as part of your platform. And I know you can't be a partner in peace.if your party has got an armed wing."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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