On dealing with Hamas

The Jerusalem Post reports:

In a report to be published on Tuesday, a subcommittee of the House of Lords’ European Union Committee said that the EU should avoid an “undesirably rigid” approach to dealing with Hamas that would risk undermining progress in building viable and democratic Palestinian institutions, a prerequisite, they say, for any peace settlement…

A spokesman for the Foreign Affairs subcommittee, one of seven subcommittees of the European Union Committee, said that Hamas must be “clear on renouncing violence” and that while pressure should be put on the group to recognize Israel and accept previous agreements, “progress should not be scuppered because of this.”

Two things should be clear: first, recognition is not just a side issue, it is the issue. And second, Hamas will never agree to recognize Israel (other than in the trivial sense of admitting its physical existence).

Recognition is a big deal because it goes against both the general Arab narrative of the conflict, and the specific Islamic sensitivities of Hamas.

In the Arab narrative, the Jews have no legitimacy in the Middle East. They are no different than bandits that steal your horse. They showed up from Europe and took the Palestinians’ land. Recognition implies that they have a right — in some way, shape or form — to be there at all.

From an Islamic point of view, such as that of Hamas, the problem is multiplied. Not only are they bandits, they are not Muslims — so how can they be allowed to hold any Muslim land or rule over any Muslims?

Hamas is an organization that came into being specifically to fight the Jews, not to govern the Palestinians. Hamas simply exists for the sake of the jihad it believes is obligatory. Take away the jihad and Hamas vanishes.

So consider the three principles of the Road Map: Recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements (the Oslo accord, which implies an acceptance of Israel’s right to exist) are simply out of the question for Hamas, as the House of Lords seems to realize.

What about renunciation of violence?

Here there’s room for confusion, which Hamas wishes to exploit. Since ‘jihad’ for Hamas means armed struggle, and jihad is obligatory, there can be no permanent renunciation of violence. Hamas is prepared under some conditions to agree to a long-term but temporary truce, or hudna. Nevertheless, it is essential to a hudna that it is temporary.

Israel must not permit herself to be forced to make agreements with Hamas. There can be no real ground of agreement between to be and not to be.

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