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:
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:
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.