June 24, 2007

On Hamas

There's no other way to put this: despite the difficulties of the situation in Gaza, there is nothing effective that either the United States or Israel can do that wouldn't alienate even more Palestinians and prolong this conflict.

Yes, Israel can (and will continue) to back President Abbas' Fatah government, but it faces a serious trap. Although Fatah is more receptive and "moderate" by Western standards, it is neither benevolent or efficient. Fatah is viewed by many Palestinians as weak and corrupt, unable to provide necessary services. Hamas, on the other hand, has opened schools, and provided other social necessities in Gaza. Backing Fatah would send the wrong message to the Palestinians and simply provoke the situation currently in the Palestinian territories.

A much better solution would be to find a way to replace the Hamas social services with ones provided by Israel. Yes, this would be difficult to do, as many Palestinians view Israel with suspicion. But without any kind of policy that destroys the "actual" influence Hamas has in the region, then all Israel would be doing would be to create more problems down the road.

Now is the time to begin a painful and radical step for the Palestinian territories. If there is ever to be any solution to the problem in the Middle East, Israel must show that it is willing to help those in the Palestinian territories. Only then will they be able to win concessions, peace, and a real two-state solution.

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