Now that they control the Palestinian government, they want to offer a “hudna,” or a truce with Israel that may last five or ten years.
Not only does Hamas lack the legal right to offer a hudna to anyone, they technically have no right to participate in Palestinian government.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is correct to call for new elections. Palestinians must eject Hamas because Hamas is anti-government and anti-peace.
The question before Palestinians and Israelis today is a simple one: Do they support peace based on compromise and the two-state solution?
Set aside the emotions driven by years of frustrations and suffering on both sides, most reasoned Palestinians and Israelis would say yes.
But in this era of endless violence and heightened emotion, the wills of the majority have been hijacked. Hamas is not the future, it is the end. Not just for Palestinians but for Israelis, too.
Palestinians and Israelis are emotional people. When emotions run high they don’t see straight. A majority of Palestinians and Israelis can come together and embrace peace, but it only takes one extremist to block the majority’s will and destroy peace. The sole purpose of Hamas and its violence is to prevent compromise with Israel.
Hamas used suicide bombings not to end the occupation, but to incite Israelis against peace, too. Hamas targeted Israeli civilians on buses, cafes and shopping malls.
They committed the most heinous acts to shock the public. They wanted to provoke Israeli retaliation and violence to undermine peace.
Violence keeps goal alive
That’s what extremists do best, on both sides. They use violence to provoke the other away from peace. Extremists believe continued violence keeps their goal alive. As long as there is violence, there can be no peace or a two-state solution. Extremists believe compromise will prevent them from achieving their goal, the destruction of the other side.
But in the Palestinian-Israeli power imbalance, it has been easier for Israeli extremists to disrupt the apple cart. Palestinian fanatics have had to be more dramatic.
After the partners of the two-state solution died – Yitzhak Rabin was murdered by an Israeli extremist while Yasir Arafat died, undermined by Hamas – the extremists went to work.
Rabin’s death created a vacuum filled by Israeli extremists. Arafat’s death did the same. Both resulted in chaos that allowed extremists to take control by provoking violence.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to destroy the Oslo Peace Accords. He railed against two-states knowing he could depend on Palestinians to respond with emotion rather than reason.
His partner, Ariel Sharon, was even more effective. While Netanyahu played the diplomat, Sharon pushed the Palestinian “red alert” button by visiting the al-Haram al-Ash Sharif (Temple Mount) and provoking a new conflict quickly exploited by extremists on both sides.
Extremists know suffering is their stepping stone to victory.
When Hamas and Sharon provoked violence, they did so as individuals without the authority or mandate of the people. Yet, while Palestinians are quick to blame everything on Sharon and the Israelis, they refuse to apply the same standard to themselves.
Hamas has never been a part of the government. Not because they were prevented from joining the PLO or the PNA when it was founded under the provisions of the Oslo Peace Accords. They could have participated in the Palestinian government. But they chose to act outside of government authority, making every act of violence a criminal act.
Israel's crucial error
It was a mistake to allow Hamas leaders to participate in the elections without first demanding that they recognize the very principles that created the PNA: Acceptance of a two-state solution, renouncing violence in favor of negotiated peace, and recognizing Israel.
Hamas should never have been allowed to run for office without first embracing these fundamental principles of peace. It was a crucial error by Israelis to elect Netanyahu and then Sharon, but Netanyahu and Sharon acted as a government.
Hamas always acts outside of the government even as it now controls the Palestinian government. Hamas won not with a majority vote, but because of the chaos in Palestinian society.
Blame Fatah all you want for corruption and failed leadership, but at least Fatah and secular Palestinians respect the secular realities of the principles of the Oslo Peace Accords.
President Mahmoud Abbas has rightly called for new elections.
Hamas has responded by offering another “hudna” to Israel. But the hudna is a sham because the offer does not come from the Palestinian government. It is offered by the Hamas political organization. In other words, Hamas is saying they will stop engaging in their acts of violence and terrorism if Israel agrees to give them a political victory by withdrawing from the occupied territories.
I want Israel to withdraw from the territories, but not to give Hamas a semblance of victory.
Just as Hamas had no right to engage in violence to prevent the peace accords, Hamas has no right to offer anything to Israel. They have no right to hold public office until they embrace the fundamentals of a future based on peace, not a nightmare of continued violence.
Only a legitimate Palestinian government can negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians. Until the so-called Hamas government embraces the fundamentals of peace – two-states, renouncing violence and mutual recognition of Israel, the Hamas government is illegitimate.
If Hamas had even an ounce of dedication to the just cause of the Palestinian people, they would voluntarily step down from leadership rather than selfishly cling to a nightmare that one day they will lead a victory parade through a destroyed Israel and turn back the clocks to 1947.
Ray Hanania was named by the New America Media as the 2006/2007 Best Ethnic Columnist in America. He can be reached at www.hanania.com .