Make no mistake, Hamas’s landslide victory in this week’s Palestinian election is the first step of a process that will culminate with the terrorist group being celebrated by the international community. Such a turn of events may sound unlikely right now, because even Europeans recognize that Hamas is a terrorist group that is sworn to the destruction of Israel. But before Yasser Arafat was awarded the peace prize in 1994, he had a decades long record as a terrorist, as somebody who ordered the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at Munich and 25 Israeli schoolchildren in Ma’alot. That record, and the fact that he continued to order terrorist attacks while talking peace, never seemed to hurt him.
While most leaders were clear to point out what Hamas really is about after the election results, it is only a matter of time before Hamas is rehabilitated by the international community.
The first indication of this is whether the U.S. and EU cut funding to the Palestinian Authority. While Bush said yesterday, “a political party that articulates the destruction of Israel as part of its platform is a party with which we will not deal,” he said that he was waiting to see what the composition of the government was. This leaves open the possibility that funding would continue if Mahmoud Abbas remains president and/or if a leader from a party outside of Hamas is appointed prime minister.
With Hamas now in control, the Palestinian government has become a democratically- elected terrorist state, and anything short of a suspension of all funding is a capitulation to terrorism, pure and simple. If President Bush does not lead the pack by suspending aid, there’s no way the EU can be counted on to do so.
Meanwhile, there are other ominous signs that the ligitimization of Hamas has started. Look at this quote from today’s San Francisco Chronicle:
“We in the West are going to have to stop looking at Hamas as if they’re al Qaeda or the Taliban: They’re not,” said Clayton Swisher, the programs director at the Middle East Institute who served as an election monitor with the joint National Democratic Institute and the Carter Center delegation this week and traveled around the territories.
“We’ll have to deal with a group that is authentic of the Palestinian street,” Swisher said in a telephone interview from Jerusalem. “We have to come to terms with this.”
And check out this article from the Times of London, about the EU, with the aid of the U.S., facilitating the return of an exiled Hamas leader:
Khaled Mashal, the exiled supreme leader of Hamas and one of Israel’s most wanted men, has signalled his intention to return to the Gaza Strip following the organisation’s landslide victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections.
The European Union is said to be facilitating Mashal’s return from Damascus next week, when he will begin talks with President Mahmoud Abbas over a possible political partnership with the ousted Fatah party to form a new government.
Quoting sources close to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds said that the EU was lobbying the United States, which was in turn appealing to Israel not to block Mashal’s repatriation.
Mashal, a former physics teacher considered by Israel to be the director of Hamas’s terrorist arm, escaped an assassination attempt by Mossad agents in Jordan in 1997. He retains an uncompromising stance against Israel, and his potential return to help steer his victorious organisation is likely to further enrage Israeli authorities.
Within five years, supporters of Israel will be writing articles trying to remind people that Hamas is a terrorist group.