Monday, March 19, 2007

A game that can be played by two

The Palestinian political groups, Fatah and Hamas, have agreed on a power-sharing government, having barely avoided civil war in the process. The international community (specifically, a "Quartet" of UN, US, EU, and Russia) had placed three demands on any such government for the resumption of aid. Renounce violence, recognize Israel, and honor past peace agreements. The new unity government, dominated by Hamas still (as it won the election), has failed on all three counts.

This really shouldn't have come as a shock. Aren't terrorists like Hamas by definition uncompromising, fanatical people? Even so, there has been some positive change. Fatah has some ministers in the government, and Hamas said it would "respect" past agreements (whatever that means). This unity government is at least a small step in the direction that we desire. Therefore, I believe it is appropriate for the United States and the Quartet in kind to also take a small step, towards the Palestinian government.

Right now, the United States has declared it will work with ministers in the government that are of Fatah. This is a good place to start. We should also not shy away from humanitarian and economic opportunities. Still, we need to continue to make it difficult for Hamas to accomplish anything on its agenda. Hamas should know that if it wants support from the USA, they need to be willing to meet us in the middle.

I especially oppose outright recognition of the government until they have made more serious concessions to the international community. Norway, France, and Russia are all moving to give Hamas everything it wants for nothing in return. Thats probably the worst way to get Hamas to compromise.

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