Hamas wants to lead

02.06.03

Hamas has issued a statement that it is prepared to take over the Palestinian leadership from Yasser Arafat.

Mahmoud Zahar, a leader of the Hamas political wing, told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that his group is “absolutely” prepared to lead the Palestinian people now. He said Hamas has the infrastructure to take over leadership “politically, financially (and) socially.”

Lest we panic, remember that all this would mean, even if it did happen, is that one terrorist would be exchanged for another. At least Hamas openly admits its aims and activities, unlike Arafat who tries to earn world sympathy by pretending to condemn terrorism while all the while funding and encouraging it.

If the Palestinian people want to be led by Hamas, they’ll be led nowhere but to more misery, dispair, and death.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 wearethe world 02.07.03 at 4:49 AM

So I guess Israel should stop funding them!

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2 wearethe world 02.07.03 at 5:12 AM

Seems to me also that the argument about openly admitting things is the same one Hamas uses for prefering Likud to labour.

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3 Ikram Saeed 02.09.03 at 2:12 AM

Sari, this post, in my view, shows a lack of understanding of Palestinian politics (which is forgivable, since you don’t have to give a damn) but also some level of insensitivity towards Israeli life.

HAMAS will be deadlier to Israelis that the PA. They are more committed to suicide bombs, and more effective. They are not interested in negotiations, and don’t need American/EU money, so they cannot be pressured like Arafat. I think you will agree that a stronger HAMAS will mean more bombings.

That means more dead Israelies. Now, you may think that in the long run, this is good for Israelis, as it will weaken international support for Palestinians. But that’s a position that someone living in Montreal, who faces no risk of bobms, can take costlessly.

It may be that even if you lived in Israel, you might favour a stretegy that will kill Israelis in the short run. But given that you don’t, it seems coldblooded to be indifferent between HAMAS and the PA.

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4 segacs 02.09.03 at 8:46 PM

Of course I don’t favour it. I thought it was so obvious that a stronger Hamas is bad news for Israel, that it was just implied. I was merely pointing out that Arafat is also a terrorist, and that a stronger Hamas would be bad news for the Palestinians as well.

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5 James 02.09.03 at 9:02 PM

I’ve got to disagree with Ikram. In a way, I’m a bit shocked by the idea of who a Hamas-in-power situation be worse for;
it would be bad news for all involved, and set back the common objective of two-state-coexistence for both Israelis and Palestinians.

But if that’s the question on the table, I have to say that everything I’ve seen suggests that Tsahal has the military capability to be both close the border far more absolutely, and to strike outside its borders into West Bank and Gaza far more brutally.

That would change the situation in very dramatic ways. Thus far, from a military point of view, Israel has expended an increasing amount of energy on trying to hit Palestinian-faction soldiers (whether Hamas, Fatah, Aqsa, Jihad, etc) in relatively isolated situations; to strike at what Israel claimed were military installations at night, when relatively few people were likely to be inside of them; etc.

Like the larger, looser Umma-ist confederation with which it has some ties (and from some of which it receives some funding), Hamas has shown every indication of wanting to escalate to a fuller-scale war, and no indication of wanting to move away from housing its military operatives under the “cover” of the most densely populated areas of Gaza and the West Bank.

Under this kind of a near-war situation — more strenuous recruitment; increased effort (because less PA resistance to) in manufacturing Qassam-2 style weaponry; closer ties with the movements which brought fighters to Afghanistan and Chechnya — I find it hard to believe that the Israeli military strategists, who are in control of Israel’s behaviour in Palestine, would not respond in ways far more brutal than before, and with decreasing tolerance for loss of Palestinian life.

Ikram, I emphasize that to my mind, if anything, an election of Hamas by Palestinians would be first of all a long-term disaster for the dream of Israel and Palestine coexisting as two states, side by side. But that, as part of that road to long-term disaster, the short-term would see very brutal, and largely effective, activity by the Israeli military in the Territories. And that this would be a disaster for Palestinians, particularly in the refugee camps where Hamas is stronger, and less so in the less-densely-populated cities proper where Fateh et al have their offices.

You disagree; it sounds like your reasoning is that were Hamas stronger in Palestine, the Israeli military could not put a stop to Hamas’s military incursions, no matter how aggressive the Israeli military. Which is where we part opinions, yes?

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6 Peter 02.10.03 at 7:01 AM

It seems like Arafat will use Hamas for his own ends in his struggle with Sharon. The more he gets from Sharon, the tighter he’ll clamp down on Hamas and vice versa. That is my two cents. I don’t think there is much chance though of Hamas taking control of the PA.

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7 segacs 02.10.03 at 2:38 PM

Other way around, Peter. The more Arafat gets from Sharon, the less he’ll clamp down on Hamas. The last thing Arafat wants is to get too close to a deal. He knows that he can never, ever, sign an agreement with Israel. It would be like signing his death sentence. So as long as the terrorism continues, he knows there will be no deal.

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