But, while it might always be possible to brush off some inconvenient, unpleasant words, that policy met an even greater challenge on Wednesday as Fatah and Hamas signed (reports here and here) a deal in Cairo that is supposed to meld them into a joint Palestinian government. Fatah was represented by Abbas; Hamas by Damascus-based terror kingpin Khaled Mashaal, whom Israel tried to assassinate in Amman, Jordan in 1997.
Abbas said, “We announce to Palestinians that we turn forever the black page of division…the state of Palestine must be born this year” — referring to the planned attempt to get a Palestinian state recognized by the UN in September. If the unity deal holds up, it will be possible to claim that “Palestine” is now a coherent entity instead of two separate ones in the West Bank and Gaza.
Abbas added, “Hamas are our brothers, our family. We may differ a lot, but we agree a lot….Hamas is part of us.” Mashaal, for his part, said, “Our common enemy is Israel. Israel must be fought through force and diplomacy.”
So it’s official, even for those who doggedly believe in a moderate Fatah: the Palestinian government is now a terrorist government. Hamas is formally defined as a terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union. These bodies offer Hamas conditions — something they would never do regarding al-Qaeda — to make itself respectable and join the “peace process”: renounce terrorism, recognize Israel, and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. There is no chance that Hamas will comply with any of these.
Already on Wednesday Mahmoud Zahar, sometimes referred to as Hamas’s “foreign minister,” reiterated that his organization would never recognize Israel nor give up the “right to Palestine, while recognizing the rule of Poles and Ethiopians” there (referring to two of the many Israeli Jewish ethnicities).
As for renouncing terrorism, it is possible that Hamas will try to hold its guns till September. Yet the new, post-Mubarak Egypt, the host and probably the driving force behind the Fatah-Hamas deal, is already rewarding Hamas by opening Egypt’s border with Gaza — seen universally in Israel as a grim development that will enable an increased influx of Iranian weapons to the Strip.
With many Palestinian-affairs experts rating this deal’s chances to endure as low, it may be understandable for the U.S. to hedge for a while and repeat the mantra about Hamas and the three conditions. But not for long. As Dick Morris asks starkly:
Will the United States continue to give the PA $600 million a year in foreign aid?… Will we aid an overtly terrorist state committed to the destruction of Israel?
It doesn’t make much sense to fight terror in Pakistan and bolster it elsewhere.