WASHINGTON – Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian Authority elections helped expose its weakness, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice claims in an extensive essay published in the Foreign Affairs journal.
“When Hamas won elections in the Palestinian territories, it was widely seen as a failure of policy. But although this victory most certainly complicated affairs in the broader Middle East, in another way it helped to clarify matters,” said Rice, who is due to leave for Paris on Wednesday and arrive in Israel early next week, attempting to salvage the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Hamas had significant power before those elections - largely the power to destroy. After the elections, Hamas also had to face real accountability for its use of power for the first time. This has enabled the Palestinian people, and the international community, to hold Hamas to the same basic standards of responsibility to which all governments should be held.”
‘You cannot be both’
Rice’s conclusion is that Hamas is unwillingly trying to act as a responsible regime rather than a terror organization, but “has demonstrated that it is wholly incapable of governing.
“If there can be a legitimate, effective, and democratic alternative to Hamas (something that Fatah has not yet been), people will likely choose it,” Rice determines, maintaining that “you can be a terrorist group or you can be a political party, but you cannot be both. We do know that excluding them from the political process grants them power without responsibility.”
In addressing the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, the secretary of state explains that a Palestinian state will not be established “just through negotiations to resolve hard issues related to borders, refugees, and the status of Jerusalem but also through the difficult effort to build effective democratic institutions that can fight terrorism and extremism, enforce the rule of law, combat corruption, and create opportunities for the Palestinians to improve their lives.”