Friday, January 27, 2006

Israel and Hamas

I was going to say something about yesterday’s shock election victory for Hamas in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, but realised I don’t really have much to say on the subject beyond the obvious: they have to announce immediately and unambiguously that they have abandoned terrorism and are open to negotiating a workable and permanent peaceful settlement. Oh, and dropping the commitment to destroy Israel would also be helpful.

Anyway, here’s two links to blogs with a far more interesting take on it than me:

First up is Slightly Mad, by The Artist Formerly Known As Purple Parrot (or PP as she will be known from now). PP is an ex-pat Brit who’s been living in Israel for six years, so knows more than most how this result has been received in all quarters. You can read her post here.

Secondly there’s Oliver Kamm, who’s become something of a blogging legend. He’s spent the last week in Israel speaking to political figures on both sides and his thoughts can be read here.


Pedro said...

religion! For those of you watching in black and white I am shaking my head in despair. This may be controversial, but with our wonderful ability to manipulate the building blocks of life these days couldn't we construct some kind of deadly virus that only targets these deluded lunatics everywhere!

Citizen Sane said...

We can but dream. . .

tafka PP said...

Thanks for the link! I'm personally quite nervous, but at least Oliver Kamm makes lots of sense.

Citizen Sane said...


So how does this affect the upcoming Israeli elections? Is it vital that Kadima win? Has the Hamas victory blown the chance of that happening? Can we expect a massive swing to the right in reaction? The stakes seem higher than ever now.

H said...

Citizen, and others reading,

PP, told me I should reply to some of those questions you just asked. So here goes:

For sure, the parties of the Centre, Centre Left, and Left will be damaged by the Hamas victory - Israelis (probably rightly) see the election of Hamas as a sign that the Palestinians are not interested in a peaceful solution at least at the moment. This is probably a correct analysis of the Hamas Victory. So Likud will grow a bit in the polls - though they probably would have done anyway - if it weren't the Hamas Victory, it would have been Hamas' violent reaction to the Fatah victory, which pushed Israelis rightward, or just the natural evening out process after Kadima's initial surge and then the sympathy vote for Sharon - the truth is most Israelis vote with their gut. And for some reasons guts tend to be more right wing than heads.

Is it vital that Kadima win? Depends who you ask obviously, but from someone who probably has a similar political outlook as both the liberal elite writers and Oliver Kamm, I would say that who actually wins the Israeli election has been made less important by the Hamas victory. Kamm's analysis that the Hamas victory will now trigger two separate processes within Palestinian and Israeli politics is a line he got off Ehud Ya'ari who has been telling Israelis what to make of the Hamas Victory all week on Israeli TV. It is almost certainly true - and so that means that it doesn't really matter (for the Peace Process) whether Kadima or Likud are in charge, as currently both have the same attitude to negotiating with Hamas.

I personally believe that the Israeli electorate are not so fickle that this will bring a big enough swing to put Likud ahead. I predict a Kadima victory but a strong second for Likud, maybe strong enough to prevent Kadima making a coalition without them. This means we could see a grand Naitonal Unity government of all three major parties or just a Kadima-Likud coalition, or the least likely a Kadima-Avodah-Meretz(and if something remains of Shinui) coalition.

Quite a lot of people actually feel that the Hamas victory is not such an awful step - it will force Hamas to grow up politically, and will make them create order in the PA, which will be the basis for a real cease-fire, possibly, and from there there is a possibility of peace, perhaps.

So that's just my opinion.

Citizen Sane said...

Thanks. Very interesting.

I particularly agree with your last paragraph about Hamas having to grow up politically. By forming a government, Hamas have a one-time opportunity to take part in discourse rather than violence. They would have to be terminally stupid to let such an opportunity slip and, indeed, failure to do so would produce universal condemnation. Common sense dictates that they need to be accepted as a political rather than a 'military' force. Hopefully they are aware of this.

mAc Chaos said...

I doubt they have the sense to "moderate" themselves. They're already forming a state-backed terrorist army using their military wing.