February 20, 2006


US dilemma: dealing with Hamas: Rice is traveling to the Middle East to keep pressure on the militant group (Howard LaFranchi, 2/21/06, The Christian Science Monitor)

The US is "reviewing" other aid to the Palestinians, which totals more than $200 million between direct assistance and aid disbursed through the UN, State Department officials say. The announced review is designed to pressure Hamas into publicly changing its goals - a move it so far does not seem willing to make. [...]

How the US responds will also have a deep impact on democratization efforts in the region. Rice will thank the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for its quick insistence that Hamas recognize Israel. But will the US appreciation also lead the US to overlook Egypt's foot-dragging on steps toward a more open political system, some experts wonder?

On her trip, Rice will emphasize "continuing and unwavering [US] support for the spread of democracy in the Middle East," according to her spokesman.

The ideal solution is to be openly hypocritical, refusing to deal with them ourselves. or force the Israelis to, while making sure that others help them enough so that they can begin grappling with Palestinine's internal problems even as we shift more responsibility to them, including full national sovereignty.

Hamas' choice for PM seen as pragmatist (STEVE WEIZMAN, 2/20/06, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The 43-year-old Hamas activist [,Ismail Haniyeh.] tapped by the Islamic militant group to form a new Palestinian government has a reputation as a pragmatist who prefers compromise to conflict with Palestinian rivals. [...]

He is married with 11 children and lives on a narrow street overflowing with sewage in the same beachfront refugee camp on the edge of Gaza City where he was born in January 1963.

Haniyeh's parents fled the village of Jourra in what is now southern Israel during the 1948 war that accompanied the founding of the Jewish state.

He studied in U.N. refugee schools in the coastal strip and graduated from the Islamic University there in 1987, with a degree in Arabic language. He was active in student politics, became a close associate of Yassin and was expelled by Israel to south Lebanon in 1992 along with more than 400 other Hamas activists.

He returned to Gaza a year later, becoming dean of the Islamic University, and in 1998, he took charge of Yassin's office.

A tall man with an imposing presence, Haniyeh is known as an able negotiator. He served as a liaison between Hamas and Palestinian Authority, established in 1994 and dominated by Abbas' Fatah movement until its electoral defeat last month. He is said to enjoy good relations with Abbas. [...]

"He is not a believer in violence all the way," [Palestinian political analyst Talal Okal] told The Associated Press. "He understands that there are other means of struggle that can be followed."

Hamas has observed a yearlong truce with Israel and says it would consider a long-term armistice if Israel follows last year's Gaza pullout with a withdrawal from the West Bank.

Nevertheless, after the party won 74 of 132 seats in the parliament - the Palestinian Legislative Council - Haniyeh dismissed Western calls for Hamas to disarm and renounce violence.

"The Europeans and Americans want to tell Hamas that you can keep one of two: weapons or the legislative council," he said. "We say weapons and the legislative council, and there is no contradiction."

If he were a Soviet we'd hear that he liked whiskey and jazz....

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 20, 2006 6:08 PM

When they start using the word, "pragmatist," then you know it's time to check the safety catch on your Beretta.

That's the word they used for the KGB man, Andropov, when he took over the FORMER SOVIET UNION.

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 20, 2006 10:45 PM