Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why Require Hamas To Recognize Israel When Abbas Won't?

The Obama administration has embarked on a path some feel may lead to recognition of Hamas. True, Hamas remains on the official list of terrorist groups:
But the administration has asked Congress for minor changes in U.S. law that would permit aid to continue flowing to Palestinians in the unlikely event that Hamas-backed officials become part of a unified Palestinian government.
Now whenever there is any hint of recognition of Hamas, the response is that any recognition would require that Hamas acquiesce on the big 3:
U.S. officials insist the proposal does not mean they would be recognizing or aiding Hamas. Under law, any U.S. aid would require that the Palestinian government meet three long-standing criteria: recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and agreeing to follow past Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
The question is--does the US require the same from the PA?

This week, Abbas came out with his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state:
"A Jewish state, what is that supposed to mean?" Abbas asked in a speech in the West Bank's political capital of Ramallah. "You can call yourselves as you like, but I don't accept it and I say so publicly."

He said it's not his job to define the state of Israel. "Name yourself, it's not my business," He said. "All I know is that there is the state of Israel, in the borders of 1967, not one centimeter more, not one centimeter less. Anything else, I don't accept."
Now you could argue that Abbas is only refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state--in order not to mess the negotiations for the return of Palestinian Arabs to Israel. But Abbas has gone further than that.

Joel Mowbray wrote in March of last year that Abbas's definition of simple recognition of Israel has also been dummied down:
"Defending his “recognition” of Israel on TV network Al-Arabiya in October 2006, he explained that it was more a practical reality than a meaningful political position. He cited as an example the need for the PA to get $500 million from Israel: “The Palestinian finance minister has to come to an agreement with the Israeli finance minister about the transfer of the money. So how can he make an agreement with him if [the PA finance minister] does not recognize him? So I do not demand of Hamas nor any other to recognize Israel. But from the government that works with Israelis in day to day life, yes.”"
This is not the kind of minimal recognition that one expects of a peace partner; it is the cynical kind of recognition that is the minimum necessary to get the money. Of course, the fact that Abbas himself would not require Hamas to recognize Israel makes the US claim that they would require Hamas to recognize Israel somewhat less than meaningful.

But that is what Obama's promise to look out for Israel's security has become--
Less than meaningful.

Note: Come to think of it, what about the other 2 requirements: renouncing violence and agreeing to follow past Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

When is the last time that Abbas renounced violence against Israel? What we get instead, according to Mowbray's article:
Appearing much less careful than when speaking in English, Mr. Abbas last week told the Arabic-language Al-Dastur, I was honored to be the one to shoot the first bullet in 1965, the year his organization, Fatah, initiated terrorism against Israel. (Transcript provided by PMW.) The renowned moderate Palestinian leader then explained his pride in having taught resistance to many in this area and around the world ... including Hezbollah, who were trained in [PLO] camps.
As far as keeping past agreements, phase one of the Road Map requires "Issue unequivocal statement affirming Israel’s right to exist in peace and security." Abbas's comments about Israel not being a Jewish state--and his watered down version of what recognition means--run counter to that. 

Then of course there is Abbas's refusal to disarm terrorist groups, stop attacks against Israel, and use force to confront terrorism--remember that the Kassam rockets did not suddenly begin when Abbas was kicked out of Gaza.

So the question really is: if recognition of Hamas is based on recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and agreeing to follow past Israeli-Palestinian agreements--what is recognition of (and aid to) Abbas and the Palestinian Authority based on?

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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