July 6, 2006


U.S. Seen Backing Israeli Moves To Topple Hamas (Ori Nir, July 7, 2006, The Forward)

Sources close to the administration said that policymakers in the White House and the State Department, who in the past advised Israel against toppling the government in the territories for fear that the collapse of the P.A. would bring about chaos, have now concluded that there is no real value in keeping Hamas in power. Hamas is not making any significant effort to moderate and act pragmatically, administration officials recently told Washington insiders. The Hamas government's support of continued terrorism against Israel — whether it is the launching of home-made rockets from Gaza, the kidnapping of Israelis or suicide attacks against Israel — is viewed by the administration as intolerable and therefore as justification for decisive Israeli action, sources said.

"In the war against terror, in 9/11 there was a line drawn. As far as this administration is concerned, you get our support if you're on the right side of the line, and you don't if you're on the wrong side," said Aaron Miller, a former senior State Department negotiator on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. That approach was applied to former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat when the administration became convinced of his support of terrorism, and it is now being applied to the Hamas government, said Miller, currently a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington.

In addition, administration officials said that they understand the domestic Israeli pressure on Olmert to act decisively. The fear, sources told the Forward, is that American efforts to restrict Israrel's reaction to Hamas-sponsored terrorism could hasten the fall of Olmert's government and lead to the demise of his plans for an Israeli withdraw from large parts of the West Bank.

No matter how badly they've handled the election of Hamas, the Israelis weren't going to lose our support when pursuing their own WoT.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 6, 2006 9:18 PM

Somebody tell Meryl Yourish and Lair Simon. It might make them slightly less dyspeptic.

Posted by: HT at July 6, 2006 9:54 PM

It's about time.

Posted by: erp at July 7, 2006 8:05 AM

This may somewhat damper your presumption that elected radicals will naturally moderate their extremism in the face of mundane reality. It is also a cold shower for some of our shared hopes that a true Mideast electoral democracy will become America's natural ally.

Posted by: Ray Clutts at July 7, 2006 1:26 PM

Why? They've moderated. Israel and America just haven't taken advantage of it. And instead of freeing the moderates they have imprisoned and killing the extremists in Syria the Israelis have gotten themselves bogged down in Palestine again. They'll soon cut a deal favorable to Hamas and ghead home having achieved nothing.

Bu we'll back them.

Posted by: oj at July 7, 2006 1:31 PM
They've moderated
Not according to the article you cited.

Hamas won't moderate precisely because they don't want the responsibility of a state. Hamas provokes Israel in order to get a response that justifies Hamas ignoring the demands of governing. It works. Why should they change?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at July 7, 2006 2:41 PM

Israeli troops are in Palestine, not vice versa.

Posted by: oj at July 7, 2006 2:47 PM

Palestinian troops were never in Israel, so the absence of them is no evidence for moderating. I don't have troops in Palestine either, does that mean I have moderated my position?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at July 7, 2006 4:54 PM

Are you invading Palestine? The U.S. certainly wouldn't be as moderate as the Palestinians have been if we were invaded.

Posted by: oj at July 7, 2006 5:07 PM

What're their options?

Posted by: erp at July 7, 2006 5:17 PM

The Iraqi Sunnis have dealt much more harshly with their occupiers, but they're extremists.

The Colonists dealt more harshly with our occupiers, but we were more extreme. The Palestinians aren't even as violent as the Minutemen.

Posted by: oj at July 7, 2006 5:30 PM

Ah, you've changed from the verb "moderated" (implying a change, comparing Hamas of the past to Hamas of the now) to adjective "moderate" (meaning a particular state, comparing Hamas to other polities). My fault, I missed the point that when you said Hamas would change, what you meant was they would stay the same.

I would also note that you've also switched from "Hamas" to "Palestinians", making a double bait and switch. I'm not sure I've seen the double in action before, so let me take this opportunity to compliment you on your level of rhetorical play.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at July 7, 2006 6:28 PM

Moderated. Hamas not only used to insist on the destruction of Israel but used to be responsible for terrorism against Israelis. Now they accept two states and don't even defend against invasion. They're a normal political party, though weak on national security by American standards.

Posted by: oj at July 7, 2006 7:10 PM

Is there a French jumbo jet in there somewhere?

The Minutemen were certainly violent towards British regulars, but I don't remember them killing Tory women and children who were having a lunch out in Boston or Philadelphia.

Hamas thought they could continue the Arafat shuffle. They gambled and they lost. While Israel probably won't be as ferocious as they could be, Fatah certainly will. Hamas is going to become a distinct minority in Palestinian life very soon.

Posted by: ratbert at July 7, 2006 7:58 PM

No, they won't. They're one of the two main political parties in the country and unless Israel releases Barghouti they'll win next time too. The cycle has never served Israel.

Posted by: oj at July 7, 2006 8:30 PM

The cycle, as you put it, was minor league until a few months ago. For the past 20 years, the loons firing rockets and shooting up kibbutzim served Arafat well. So he did nothing.

But now that the Palis have run out their string on terror, they are fighting amongst themselves, and the latest Israeli incursions apparently have not unified the Palis against the Jews (as either Hamas or Fatah might have expected).

Hamas is in a bad place - it cannot be sufficiently aggressive to satisfy the nutjobs, and it cannot suddenly morph into a leftist (dovish) European political party overnight. It cannot become Hezbollah (a one-party supra state), no matter how hard it tries. So it will wither. This latest round of 'victimhood' will leave it weakened and more exposed than ever.

The Palis don't need a Thomas Jefferson; they need a Mohammed. Perhaps it is Barghouti - I don't know. One thing is for sure - all the hand-wringing over those greenhouses in Gaza seems quite unimportant now.

Posted by: ratbert at July 7, 2006 11:23 PM

Israel isn't going to stay and they aren't going to do anything meaningful about Hamas. They'll withdraw which is a victory for Hamas. They may have to swap prisoners which would be another victory. And Hamas will either retain power in the next election or be a major player. This whole episode is just another exercise in futility by both sides that neither strengthens nor weakens either. In a month they'll be back where they were a month ago--waiting for Israel to create a state of Palestine.

Posted by: oj at July 8, 2006 12:12 AM