Mort Zukerman, owner of the NY Daily News and US News and World Report, has been a tireless supporter of Jewish and Israeli Causes writes an emotional editorial in this weeks Issue of the newsweekly. He lays out an logical case in support of continuing the isolation of Hamas. Just when Hamas was feeling the pressure of Isolation, the west starts talking about opening the purse strings. I urge you to read Mr. Zukerman’s Editorial below.
By Mortimer B. ZuckermanPosted 3/4/07
Nobody should underestimate the capacity of Middle East leaders for making bad situations worse. Headlines about the “agreement” in Mecca between President Mahmoud Abbas and the terrorist group Hamas implied that something agreeable had come out of the Saudi initiative to bring them together in a unity government. On the contrary. The terrible result of the weakness of Abbas—a weakness of character and a weakness of his organization—is that the conflict with Israel will torment still another generation of Palestinians. The agreement drove a stake through the heart of the two-state dream, because it left no one with whom the Israelis could make a peaceful settlement. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was left looking ill on her first joint meeting with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, because the “moderate” Abbas had just pulled the rug out from under the United States. Abbas had been committed to disarming Hamas and calling early elections. Those might well have dislodged Hamas, since its obduracy has only increased the misery of ordinary Palestinians. Washington was supporting Abbas in this, but what does he do in Mecca? He agrees to share power with Hamas. As recently as last December, Abbas had rejected a unity government based on the limited concept of a technocratic government under which Hamas would have neither the prime ministership nor control of key government ministries. Yet, under the Mecca terms, Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh will stay on as prime minister and as head of the coalition, and Hamas will hold the majority of the cabinet, with 12 seats, with Fatah holding only six. Yes, the key ministries of finance, foreign affairs, and interior will be headed by independents selected by Abbas, but from a list submitted by Fatah and Hamas! Why did Abbas cave? Quite simply, because, in the recent clashes between Palestinians in Gaza, the Hamas forces were clearly superior to those of Fatah. On the ground, the Mecca accord guarantees only more bloodshed. Hamas’s armed men will be incorporated into the Palestinian security forces, with salaries to be paid by the Palestinian Finance Ministry. Haniyeh and the Hamas-nominated interior minister in the Palestinian National Security Council will set military strategy for the Palestinians. Hamas loyalists will be placed in the bureaucracy of the Palestinian Authority and foreign service, again with the PA paying those expenses, rather than Hamas having to cover them from its own budget. Representatives of the quartet—the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia, whose “road map” peace plan has now been thoroughly exploded by Mecca—cannot be unaware of Hamas’s using the respected new finance minister, a moderate named Salaam Fayad, to funnel money into the hands of Hamas ministers, including those heading military and security forces. Any financial support post-Mecca will serve only to strengthen the radical forces of Hamas. Black magic. Wait, it gets worse. Hamas had been internationally isolated while the Palestinian Liberation Organization was recognized as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Under Saudi Arabia’s misbegotten maneuver in Mecca, however, Hamas becomes an integral part of the PLO, rescued, as if by magic, from its isolation. Thus Hamas has gained politically, institutionally, and bureaucratically—and in its relations with the Arab world—without meeting any of the international conditions for negotiations. Hamas was not made to concede power or ideology. It was not compelled to recognize Israel or renounce terrorism—nor even to agree to promise to honor previously signed agreements. And yet it now has obtained the unity government it wished for, along with hundreds of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia to escape its financial crisis, to solidify its rule, and to reach the next Palestinian election with more strength and credibility. Make no mistake: Hamas has not changed its spots. The terrorism it sponsors and advocates is unabated. Hamas continues to fire rockets into Israel and attempts more suicide bombings. Its leaders refuse to release a kidnapped Israeli soldier, and it nourishes mass smuggling of arms into Gaza, including rockets that are longer in range, more accurate, and more lethal, enabling them to threaten larger parts of Israel. We must remember that Hamas remains critically allied with Iran, which provides substantial military aid and training to Hamas members. Tehran is Hamas’s most vocal supporter. Iran—and Hezbollah—provide military instructors, to the point that Hamas activity in Gaza is approaching that of Hezbollah in Lebanon. The area under Hamas control—to wit, Gaza—remains the prime source of terrorism against Israel. Last year, the number of rocket attacks from there increased threefold over 2005. The Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, who lives in Syria, continues to assert publicly that he would do anything to destroy the State of Israel. Hamas spokesmen continue to insist that they will not recognize the legitimacy of the “Zionist entity.” The head of the Fatah parliamentary bloc, Azam al-Ahmed, says the issue of recognition of Israel never even came up for discussion in Mecca. Hamas can now prevent Palestinians from being able to carry out any commitment that will make any peace process meaningful and important. Israel, to state the obvious, cannot sit down with someone aiming a gun at its head. The effect of the Mecca agreement was to bring Abbas and the PA closer to Hamas instead of bringing Hamas closer to Abbas. In effect, Hamas has radicalized the PA’s government and undermined the moderates in the region. The Mecca effect is seen in the reaction of a perceived moderate, Jibril Rajoub, the former head of PA security in the West Bank. He appeared on TV not to say that the agreement threatened prospects for peace but to declare that the Palestinians will win back every inch of land between the river and the sea. And the “moderate” Abbas? Here are his words: “We have a legitimate right to direct our guns against Israeli occupation.” Abbas is now the nominal leader of the unified Palestinians but, in fact, the junior partner and mouthpiece of Hamas. He is now effectively yoked to the Hamas objective of eliminating Israel once and for all. Unsurprisingly, as far as the Israelis are concerned, Abbas is toast. He is now incapable of carrying out any agreements that might have been reached with the Israelis, so the quartet’s road map to peace has hit a dead end. The tragedy of Abbas’s capitulation in Mecca is that the deal he made effectively killed a secret but promising initiative of Jordan’s King Abdullah. Abdullah’s plan was to reach an agreement on final-status terms through negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians and use that as the basis of a new general election among the Palestinians, led by Abbas, that would topple the Hamas government. The king promised he would make an effort to gain the support of the moderate Arab states for his plan, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, and get them to recognize Israel once the peace settlement was signed. King Abdullah’s objective was to produce stability, to lower the level of terrorism and tension in the region, and to stymie the Shiite revolution, led by Iran, that is so balefully expanding its influence across the region. Abbas’s Mecca moment has all but blotted out this one chink of light. Murderers. Even the Saudis now understand the significance of the damage Mecca has done. “Progress to peace” is not a term that can be found in the Hamas vocabulary. Its purpose is not to create two peaceful states between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River but to transform the Palestinian national struggle into a fundamentally religious conflict that calls for Israel’s destruction in Allah’s name. The Hamas prime minister, Haniyeh, has made this clear repeatedly. “We are not,” he says, “seekers of office but seekers of martyrdom.” Now that Hamas is dominant, it will determine that the secular Palestinian leadership will be subservient in a holy war against Israel that sanctifies bloodshed, glorifies murder, and educates children to die as shahids, or martyrs. Abbas holds no sway over the elected murderers in Hamas and instead has shamefully allowed them additional control over the Fatah faction. Under these circumstances, hardly anyone in Israel thinks that if it decides to give up territory again, it would get peace in return. Tendering olive branches of the kind so often advocated by Israel’s critics has borne nothing but bitter fruit. Israel left Lebanon, and Hezbollah gathered weapons, then made war. Israel left Gaza to the Gazans and was rewarded with a more aggressive Hamas and more rocket attacks. Israelis will not become suicidal, as they believe that a religious war against the Jewish state would not end if Israel redeploys, even back to the 1967 armistice line. The land-for-peace concept has, in effect, collapsed. Nobody in Israel believes that the Palestinians under Hamas will be satisfied with a homeland in the West Bank and Gaza, whatever Israel may do, for Hamas does not accept the right of the State of Israel to exist. Israel will not contemplate excruciating concessions on Jerusalem or on the territories to be given to a Palestinian government led by those who refuse to renounce terrorism or to acknowledge its existence. As one Israeli put it: “Would they give in on the issue of Israel’s right to exist? Only after they have converted to Judaism.” Even worse, Hamas is part of the radical Muslim Brotherhood movement that does nothing to conceal its aspirations of fomenting Islamic revolution across the length and breadth of the Middle East, of toppling the moderate regimes allied with the West, and of working with Iran to expand its role as the leader of political Islam—all in service of the goal of an Islamic caliphate that would ultimately threaten even Europe. Fortunately, the United States, Israel, and the rest of the quartet have adopted an uncompromising position on the Hamas participation. Rice made it clear that the Hamas government does not meet the international qualifications, nor is there “any evidence that this one will.” This is a part of what should be a clear message of Washington and the quartet. Consequently, it would be a terrible mistake to offer any concessions or rewards to this new PA-Hamas government. If the West must now choose between its survival and the survival of radical Islamic forces, we should choose our own survival.