Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson have jointly penned a characteristically appalling op-ed in Foreign Policy magazine assigning primary blame to Israel for the war in the Middle East. The key to ending the violence, they contend, is for the United States and the European Union to recognize the Hamas terrorist organization as a legitimate “political force.”
According to the authors, the latest outbreak of fighting was triggered neither by Hamas’s murder of three Israeli teenagers nor its firing of thousands of missiles into Israel. Rather, they proceed from the premise that Israel is the culprit, for what Carter and Robinson deceitfully describe as:
[Its] deliberate obstruction of a promising move toward peace in the region, when a reconciliation agreement among the Palestinian factions was announced in April. This was a major concession by Hamas, in opening Gaza to joint control under a technocratic government that did not include any Hamas members. The new government also pledged to adopt the three basic principles demanded by the Middle East Quartet comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia: nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements. Tragically, Israel rejected this opportunity for peace and has succeeded in preventing the new government’s deployment in Gaza.
This surely reflects Obama administration thinking, as well. Obama’s presidency has aptly been called the second (and now third) Carter term – a downward spiral from the shambles made of American foreign policy in the late seventies. Mrs. Robinson is the former president of Ireland and UN high commissioner for human rights, whose pro-terrorist sympathies and anti-Israel animus were ably chronicled several years back by Michael Rubin. (See “Mary Robinson, War Criminal?”) In 2001, she led the notorious Durban conference (the “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Zenophobia and Related Intolerance”) that was so rabidly anti-Semitic the American delegation stormed out. Yet, eight years later under a new, hard-Left administration, there stood Robinson in the White House being honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Of course, anyone who grasps the details of the “unity government” and Hamas’s strategy in agreeing to it quickly realizes it is the antithesis of “a promising move toward peace.” In fact, Hamas is simply applying the Hezbollah model to the Palestinian territories. In Lebanon, the Hezbollah terrorist organization – Iran’s forward jihadist militia and oft-time Hamas mentor – agreed to participate in a unity government while maintaining the independence of its jihadist military and intelligence apparatus. That is exactly what Hamas has done.
As this excellent analysis by Ehud Yaari of the Washington Institute relates, Hamas’s agreement to join its rival Fatah in a unity government does not relinquish control of either its 20,000-strong jihadist force, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, or its internal intelligence and security apparatus. These forces are already far stronger than the Palestinian Authority’s security forces under the control of Fatah (which Hamas routed and ejected from Gaza in 2007).
Note, moreover, the stealthy hand of Iran in the mix. Hamas has had to come crawling back to the mullahs, hat in hand. After angering Tehran (and thus losing much of its funding and weapons support) by jumping on the Sunni side of the Syrian civil war, Hamas saw its preferred patron, the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Egyptian regime, overthrown. The terrorist organization now finds itself opposed by the new anti-Brotherhood government in Cairo, and thus on the outs with that government’s backers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Isolated more than ever, Hamas is working hard to get back in Iran’s good graces. Its leaders conducted extensive meetings with top Iranian and Hezbollah officials prior to agreeing to cede governing authority over Gaza to the unity government. Carter and Robinson claim that this was a “major concession.” In truth, it was a coup, as Iran’s enthusiastic endorsement of the pact attests.
Tehran persuaded Hamas that, rather than mere domination of Gaza, its strategy should be to maintain de facto control while re-infiltrating Judea and Samaria (the West Bank, now controlled by Fatah). The authority over Gaza that was transferred to the unity government is only nominal. As the recent weeks of war amply demonstrate, Hamas still exercises actual control in Gaza through its security apparatus and the 50,000 civil servants it has installed. That is why, in elaborating on its “unity” agreement, Hamas emir Ismail Haniyeh crowed, “We leave the government but stay in power…. We give up the chair but not the role we play” in Gaza.
Meanwhile, Hamas has already begun making significant inroads in Fatah’s jurisdiction. And while Carter and Robinson make much of the fact that the unity government is a “technocratic” one with no Hamas members, they fail to mention that this is just a fleeting arrangement.
Hamas accepted it because the agreement also provides for elections in the next six months. The terrorists’ ambition is to compete with Fatah for every inch of the Palestinian territories and for control of the PLO – the Arafat creation that still represents Palestinians in dealings with Israel. Despite being temporarily out of formal governance, Hamas expects in short order to control key government ministries, just as Hezbollah does in Lebanon. Eventually, it expects to win a parliamentary majority and the presidency.
By taking on the appearance of a political party but maintaining its own, extra-governmental, Iran-backed military and intelligence force, Hamas gets the best of all terrorist worlds. Its participation in government enables anti-Israel Leftists like Carter and Robinson to echo claims by Islamic-supremacist strongmen like Turkey’s Recep Erdogan that Hamas is just a political party; yet, its jihadist arsenal allows it to intimidate any Palestinian opposition while continuing to terrorize Israel.
Equally laughable is Carter and Robinson’s contention that, by its agreement to the unity government, Hamas should be vicariously understood as assenting to the “technocratic” government’s agreement to the three Quartet conditions: “nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements.” In reality, as the war makes clear, the unity government is a ploy that enables Palestinians – who broadly and materially support Hamas’s jihad – to continue seeking Israel’s destruction while pretending to comply with the conditions on which the U.S. and Europe rely (nodding and winking) to rationalize billions in Palestinian aid.
Carter and Robinson are desperate to derive or otherwise manufacture Hamas’s purported agreement to the Quartet conditions because Hamas has made quite clear that it will never actually agree to renounce the jihad and accept Israel’s right to exist. The authors would cut Hamas slack on this score because, they say, the organization cannot be expected to “cooperate in its own demise.”
Even by loathsome Carter-Robinson standards, the assertion is breathtaking. The operating assumption of their op-ed is that Israel must cooperate in its own demise by ceasing to defend itself and abandoning the blockades absent which Hamas would quickly acquire even more deadly mass-destruction weapons. Furthermore, Hamas’ raison d’être is the annihilation of Israel by terrorist jihad; so by the authors’ reasoning, it could never be expected to agree to non-violent coexistence with a Jewish state since that would amount to the demise of Hamas.
Without the demise of Hamas, there is no chance for peace in the Middle East. It will require tuning out terror’s useful idiots.
A version of this piece previously appeared on PJ Media