Saturday, March 04, 2006

...and Now Positive Actions By the Bush Administration and Russia

The world community continues to dance around Hamas, weaving to and fro, changing directions at such an amazing rate as to cause a sort of political whiplash for those of us observing and trying to figure out what a given country's policy really is. I've described Bush administration policy as schizophrenic. Here is a lovely example of why.

Two days ago I chastised the Bush administration for cheering a European Union decision to release €120 million ($143 million) in aid to the Palestinian Authority, pointing out that the funds would ultimately end up going to Hamas. On Thursday the Palestinians partially complied with a Bush administration demand to return $50 million in aid already send to the PA. State Department chief Middle East envoy David Welch, testifying before Congress, confirmed that $30 million had been returned and that the Bush administration was working to collect the other $20 million. Here is an example of the Bush administration and the State Department saying absolutely the wrong thing and then doing absolutely the right thing within the space of a week. As I do believe that actions speak more loudly than words I'll give the Bush administration kudos for working to isolate and pressure Hamas. I just wish I could be more certain that they will continue to work in this direction. For the moment, at least, I'm willing to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt.

We saw a similar turnaround this week in Russia. President Vladimir Putin had angered the United States, the European Union, and Israel by inviting Hamas officials to Moscow for meetings. The statements by President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after the meeting for the first time echoed the position previously taken by the U.S., the E.U., Canada, and Israel, demanding that Hamas recognize Israel and abandon terrorism. FM Lavrov's statements included the following:I don't think Hamas will have ... any future if Hamas doesn't change. [Hamas needs] to transform itself into a political party and to be sure that the military wing of Hamas become a legitimate part of the Palestinian security structures.These words are indeed helpful. Time will tell if this a true shift in Russian foreign policy. I'd like to see some actions from Russia to isolate Hamas as well.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashall, for his part, consistently refuses to consider taking destroying Israel off Hamas' agenda. Prior to meeting with Russian officials he said:The issue of recognition is a decided issue. We don't intend to recognize Israel. On Wednesday Agence France Presse reported that Mashall had harsh words for his European benefactors who had just sent the Palestinians the aforementioned €120 million, stating their aid could not buy Hamas. He added:The Palestinian people cannot sell their legitimate claims. There can be no trading on that, with money on one side and on the other side our homeland and our rights... Humanitarian aid should not be given with conditions. It's inadmissible.To Hamas destroying Israel and replacing it with an Islamist state is a "legitimate claim".

It is time the world faces up to the reality that Hamas is an unrepentant terrorist group bent on destroying Israel. If you support Hamas you support war against Israel.

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