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This government WANTS Hamas for its "partner"

Mahmoud Abbas’ popularity in the West is a headache for Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s no wonder he’d rather do business with Hamas

If I were Bibi Netanyahu, that’s what I’d want. I’d say to myself: “Mahmoud Abbas is a pain in the neck, he’s popular with the West, he makes Israel look bad – he cooperates with us and we don’t cooperate with him, so he goes to the UN and makes us look bad. Puts pressure on me to do things I don’t want to do and couldn’t do even if I wanted to, which I don’t. But Hamas? Hamas is easy. Hamas sits in Gaza and fires the odd rocket, no big deal. It doesn’t ask for negotiations, doesn’t demand anything. But the best part of all is that Hamas is even less popular In the West than I am – much less. If Hamas is my ’partner’ – I have no partner. I don’t have to do anything – no negotiations, no ’67 borders, no settlement freeze, nothing. And if they get restless and start firing rockets again – boom, Operation Cast Lead II, worse than the first time, and the West will support me, starting with that wimp Obama and all the way through pussy Europe. Even Lieberman could handle the hasbara on this one. It’s us and the world against Hamas, militarily and diplomatically both. Problem solved. Short-term, anyway. Long-term? As they say, God is great.”

That’s if I were Bibi. What the real Bibi is saying to himself, I have no idea, but given his view of the situation with the Palestinians, logic says he wants to deal with Hamas instead of Abbas, whether he admits it to himself or not. This goes not only for him, but for all the politicians who are dead set against giving up the West Bank – Lieberman, Yishai and all the other right-wingers who run the country.

This is the logic of what Bibi and his government want – even without looking at the Gilad Schalit deal, which, of course, provides a ton of circumstantial evidence to back up this view. Hamas kidnaps a soldier and takes home 1,000 prisoners, Abbas fights Hamas every day and takes home nothing but humiliation. It was pretty clear that the most short-sighted hawks in the government, maybe even including Netanyahu, got a spiteful kick out of this. But a story in Haaretz today says screwing Abbas isn’t about spite, it’s government policy – to keep on paying him back for the UN. And if this policy brings him down, so be it. As one advisor to Netanyahu said,

We don’t want the Palestinian Authority to collapse, but if it happens, it won’t be the end of the world.

They know who would take Abbas and Fatah’s place as the political leadership of the West Bank, and it won’t be the end of the world. A door closes and a window opens, right?

There are many Israelis and Westerners on the Left, not to mention a lot of Palestinians, who think Bibi is doing their work for them, who think the occupation will end a lot faster with Hamas rather than Abbas as the Palestinians’ address. I think they couldn’t be more wrong. Unlike the case with Abbas, Hamas’ positions on every issue dividing the Palestinians from Israel are hopelessly incompatible with a two-state solution. All that a Hamas leadership can bring is more war, a deeper occupation, a freefall down to the bottomless pit of Israeli nationalism and militarism, and no way out.

This government definitely wants the last three. Does it also want the first one, more war? If they were honest, I think Bibi and Co. would answer: “Yes and no – but if it’s yes, it won’t be the end of the world.”

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    1. Richard Witty

      Excellent points.

      I think that Bibi is simply applying the “divide and conquer” methodology of defense/survival.

      It works because there is so much division within the Palestinian community.

      Every time a party emphasizes their party’s credibility over the larger effort at stake, there is a wedge that can be driven, and more importantly all credible objectives associated with any party’s goals are rendered impotent.

      As in the hudna, its really unclear if Israel “promised” to relax or eliminate the blockade of Gaza, as Hamas representatives reported.

      If they did achieve an elimination of the blockade of Gaza, then they achieved a substantive victory. (I personally don’t see how this is possible without a complementary agreement on the part of Hamas to renounce violence on civilians from its palette)

      The release of prisoners primarily with Gazan factions affiliation, is a partisan victory, a release of intra-Palestinian fighters as much as anti-occupation.

      (Divide and conquer.)

      The options of goals are triangular.

      Three on the table:

      1. Fatah Palestinian dominance
      2. Hamas Palestinian dominance
      3. Fatah/Hamas unity

      So long as Fatah and Hamas are fundamentally fighting, Israel alternates who to legitimize and who to delegitimize, counting on the distractions that occur in the Palestinian community to keep pressure at bay.

      Negotiation is only possible with Palestinian unity.

      But that is a gamble for Israel, as successful peace can occur only with Palestinian unity, AND Palestinian unity engenders a more potent opponent.

      With risk-aversion as the primary appeal to Israeli constituencies, the divide and conquer strategy ends up making the most sense.

      Is risk-aversion a useful strategy. That was Cheney’s thesis, mentored from Israel largely.

      Reply to Comment
    2. s Katz

      I agree entirely.

      Likud and Hamas were made for each other: one cannot exist without the other. If one is removed or its impact lessened, the other responds violently and disproportionately, ensuring the resurgence of parity. One needs the other to survive.

      Breaking this death cycle is nearly impossible. When you have outside influences constantly meddling and propping up extremists on both sides, you get never ending war, and ensure the extremists maintain a political grip on their respective populations using bigotry, hatred and fear.

      Meanwhile, no one is propping the majority of both populations who are held hostage, who only want a decent peaceful future for themselves and their families, who desire an end to this madness.

      Reply to Comment
    3. aristeides

      Let’s not forget who nurtured Hamas in its cradle as a foil against the PLO. Israel has always wanted a Hamas.

      Reply to Comment
    4. RichardNYC

      “They know who would take Abbas and Fatah’s place as the political leadership of the West Bank, and it won’t be the end of the world. A door closes and a window opens, right?”
      –>Hamas? I don’t think that’s what he meant. Hamas in the West Bank is not the same caged pitbull it is in Gaza, its a bear in the daycare.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Suffice it to say that, with Hamas now in the ascendant courtesy of the Shalit exchange, the overall situation stands today more polarised than ever before. The Israeli governing body may have to veer even further to the right to compensate for the now increased numbers of Hamas people; they, in turn, are very unlikely to relinquish a posture that has brought them such tangible rewards.

      The question, therefore, remains much the same as always. How can this newly augmented alignment be depolarised sufficiently for some sort of dialogue to take place, to allow movement away from the abyss that looms ever nearer?

      Physics lessons from my schooldays recall the three most common techniques of depolarisation.

      1. Heat
      2. Impact
      3. Alternating current.

      I would guess that more than enough heat and numerous impacts have been directed against the I/P conflict over the years. So far, very little seems to have been accomplished; nothing much to show for all the effort, time and the enormous expense levied against so intractable a problem.

      Has ‘alternating current’ ever been tried?

      In the case of almost all metallic substances, this has proved to be the best and most widely used method available in eliminating unwanted polarities.
      Maybe an equivalent procedure can also work equally as well with human beings.


      ‘It won’t be the end of the world.’ But, with so many alternating fields in play, it could mean the end of this conflict. And many others.

      Isn’t science wonderful!

      Reply to Comment
    6. aristeides

      Israel makes it clear that taking hostages is the only way to gain any concessions from them.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Y.

      That’s a cute theory. May I add another? All the criticism vs the deal on +972 (including Derfner’s) was voiced only _after_ the deal was decided, and long after the criticism was of any use.
      Could it be all the criticism (or at least, its very late publication) is really because a certain individual (lets pretend his initials are M.B.) is not being released?***
      *** Given that neither Hamas nor Israel have an interest in releasing him, what did you expect?

      Reply to Comment
    8. Dayag

      There is talk of “M.B.” running for President in the upcoming Palestinian elections. Should he win, that could prove interesting.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Raed

      whats wrong with Hamas? Its a liberation movement supported by the vast majority of the Palestinian people, just trying to take back stolen Palestine

      Reply to Comment
    10. Raed: And who did the Palestinians steal Palestine from? In the history of land-ownership claims by the nations, the Jews’ claim to at least some part of Israel is, relatively speaking, solid as can be.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Raed and Larry,

      Isn’t that the real problem here?
      Both sides can lay claim to Israel/Palestine but neither is ever going to accept the other’s version of their territorial entitlement; not unless irrefutable proof of such ownership is forthcoming. And, maybe, not even then.

      Only if the Creator himself (herself, itself, themselves) were to personally and very publicly adjudicate on the matter, could resolution of it be finally determined.

      Since this is most unlikely to happen, we are left with very little choice but to muddle through by ourselves.
      If the past is much too contested to allow clear sight of who has legitimate tenancy of the region, perhaps we might engage the future to place the matter beyond all doubt.


      Reply to Comment