There is talk in the media about the West cutting its aid to the PA in response to Fatah’s unity agreement with Hamas. Elliott Abrams (The Damaging Deal Between Hamas and Fatah) writes about the various problems that the agreement causes, but ultimately falls back on the hope that “This agreement between Hamas and Fatah may break down in months.”
Based on experience the expectation that Fatah and Hamas won’t be able to follow through on the implementation of the agreement is most sensible. However, there is a good possibility that they need not follow through with implementation, because the agreement is not of substance, but actually a trick to give the West what the Palestinians know it has desperately looked for for quite a while: a pretext to give them a state and to recognize Hamas. The purpose of the agreement is precisely to serve as such a pretext and there is a good chance that it will work.
Indeed, given the lame, if not inexistent reaction by Western governments and media to the latest round of atrocities committed by individual Palestinians (Fogel murders), by Hamas (the school bus missile) and by the PA (the Joseph tomb shooting), the Palestinians have realized that even terror operations against children and unarmed Jews will not deter the West from the delusion that a state is what the Palestinians really want and that their religion inspired genocidal hatred instilled in them for generations will suddenly stop if they just get it.
The West continues to repeat the mantra of the four principles that Hamas must accept in order to be officially recognized (it’s been unofficially recognized for quite a while), but whoever believes that ought to have his head examined. In fact, the members of the Quartet other than the US were already willing to support a Palestinian state even without a formal commitment to those principles. Only because the US did not want to be put in a situation similar to the earlier UN veto one, in which it would have to stand alone against this capitulation and postponed the Quartet meeting, the capitulation did not occur.
The West is oblivious even to open Hamas assurances that it has no intention to commit to the principles. To the contrary, Haniyeh calls on Fatah to renounce recognition of Israel.
Jennifer Rubin’s (State Department won’t rule out aid to a Fatah-Hamas government) provides clear indication that, with its ME policy in tatters, the Obama administration desperately clings to Syria engagement and does not exclude extending it to Hamas in the delusion that this will save it from the ME catastrophe it has created:
As I reported earlier today, there are strong grounds under existing law for banning aid to a Fatah-Hamas government. In 2006, the Bush administration was decisive: Aid was cut once Hamas won the elections. It was reinstated only when the Palestinian Authority separated from Hamas. Nevertheless, the Obama administration is not making itself clear.…As for the future, there was no line-drawing. The official would only say, “If a new Palestinian government is formed, we will assess it based on its policies at that time and will determine the implications for our assistance based on U.S. law.”
This is the sort of maddening imprecision that seems to be designed to give maximum encouragement to the Palestinians and produce maximum anxiety for Israel and its Zionist supporters. A savvy Israel watcher on Capitol Hill told me that it seems that with regard to the Fatah-Hamas pact, the administration is “either in denial or hoping it will collapse.” However, though some in the administration might pine for a loophole to continue to support a coalition government that includes Hamas (or Hamas officials), Congress is another story.
Abbas offers precisely such a loophole by claiming that the unity agreement is something between Fatah and Hamas and does not affect the “peace process” and the negotiations between the PLO and Israel. But as Israel National News reports:
Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and Fatah party member Fuad Kokali put the lie to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' claims he will negotiate with Israel Thursday. In an interview with the pro-'Palestinian' Alternative Information Center, Kokali said "it is a must to have this reconciliation because we need the world to recognize a... Palestinian state and without Gaza ... this weakens our position."…"For Hamas there is no other choice so they will go for this [unity]," Kokali said. "But, if we are talking about principles, for example what will be the position with Hamas toward the peace process, or Fatah, this we will continue to negotiate later."
"We will continue to negotiate with Hamas about the peace process, about the peace with Israel, about the resistance, and what kind of resistance we need if peace fails .. this needs more negotiation," Kokali said.
Kokali's admission that Hamas only agreed to unity because it had no choice, and that Hamas' position vis-a-vis Fatah remained ambigous, underscores not only the tenuous nature of the agreement, but also the tenuous permanence any PA-Israel agreement would have.It also buttresses concerns the inclusion of Hamas in the PA may lead to a Hamas takeover of PA areas in Judea and Samaria.
All this notwithstanding, my guess is that Obama is likely to make a catastrophe worse by joining the Quartet and actually dealing with the unity government without insisting on the principles. It is not difficult to guess how it is going to rationalize it and present it as a success: as an “opportunity” created by Syria turmoil that has “forced Hamas to moderate” and join Fatah in the defunct “peace process”. David Ignatius (Syria’s turmoil shakes Iran and Hamas), is often a trumpet for the administration:
U.S. officials see signs that Syria’s embattled president, Bashar al-Assad, has concluded that to survive the massive protests against his regime, which continued today across the country, he will have to distance himself somewhat from Iran. The protesters have largely been Sunni Muslims who have criticized Assad’s alliance with the Shiite Muslim leadership of Iran. That anger grew last week after U.S. intelligence reports revealed that Iran had secretly supplied Assad with tear gas, anti-riot gear and other tools of suppression.…Similar problems have beset Hamas, which has its roots in Gaza but is officially based in Damascus. The radical Palestinian group has been pushed toward its merger this week with the more moderate Fatah organization because of strains in its relationship with Assad, according to an Arab source whose information was confirmed by a senior U.S. government official. Newly vulnerable in its Syrian base, Hamas made several important concessions to Fatah in the unity deal.…As evidence of Hamas’s weakness in the Egyptian-brokered unity negotiations, a U.S. official cited its acceptance of two Fatah demands: First, Hamas reversed its longstanding position against signing a 2009 Egyptian reconciliation text without modifications; and second, it accepted a plan for a government of “independents” not affiliated with the group, which hasn’t accepted Israel’s right to exist and is officially branded by the United States as a terrorist organization.
Some Obama administration officials believe that despite Israeli worries, a weakened Hamas may provide new opportunities for peace negotiations, but that question isn’t yet resolved within the White House. President Obama has delayed a speech on the Middle East that had been planned for next week — in which he might lay out U.S. “parameters” for negotiating a peace deal— to weigh the impact of the Hamas-Fatah accord.
God save us, and I am an atheist.