Roger L. Simon

Who's on life support?

From the Timesonline:

The leader of Hamas has reacted with fury to the plans outlined by Israel’s acting prime minister to unilaterally redraw Israel’s borders on the West Bank by 2010.

Khaled Mashal described the ideas for an imposed solution in the occupied territories with no negotiation with the Palestinians as tantamount to a “declaration of war”.

I don’t know why Mr. Mashal is so upset. This is nothing new. He’s been at war with the “Zionist entity” since the founding of his organization. Of course most of this is the usual posturing, but part of it must be the increasing realization that his own election has been horrible for his cause. As long as Hamas remains Hamas, he gives Israel license to draw its own borders – which they were almost certainly going to do anyway. He has put his own people in a wretched bargaining position unless he suddenly says “Okay, I recognize Israel. Let’s talk.” Not bloody likely.

So where to go for Mr. Mashal? Renewed terror is one gambit, but likely to put him and many of his friends at the short end of a helicopter missile attack. (And I can promise you one thing – some of them have their doubts about that virgins fairy tale.) A serious escalation of terror (if they are capable of it) would probably result in worse, since with Hamas running the government their actions would be state actions and dealt with accordingly. Mashal could run to the Western Europeans and the Russians for support – and he already has – but with his ally Iran parading their nuclear ambitions and acting like international lunatics his leverage with them will be less. So, for the moment, Hamas seems not to have many options. They have been checkmated for the nonce by someone on life support.