With overwhelming support at home for Hamas violence, is this how we should deal with them?
|Gunmen celebrate in front of press cameras, Gaza|
November 2012 [Image Source]
So who is partnering with Hamas now?
A recent ArabWorld Research and Development poll has revealed that 88% of Palestinians favor armed resistance against Israel over negotiations as the path to independence. In May 2011, 59% of West Bank residents supported an immediate return to negotiations with Israel. This new poll has that number down to 43%.
These results, have generated much media buzz. First, because the numbers are worrisome and second because PM Netanyahu had convinced most citizens that relations with our West Bank neighbors were, if not peachy, at least stable.
Netanyahu has labored diligently to calm us. It’s what incumbents do when their re-election matters more than anything else, even the truth. And as anyone who is even slightly acquainted with our Prime Minister knows, nothing is a higher priority for him that retaining power.
One truth that Netanyahu has endeavored to conceal from voters is the numerous concessions he made and promised to Hamas in order to win the cease-fire and temporary lull we are now enjoying.
Alex Fishman reported last month in Ynet [source]:
“The State of Israel is conducting regular negotiations, more or less, with Hamas. About once a week an Israeli delegation travels to Cairo, where it holds talks on easing financial constraints, which effectively means Israel is holding talks on easing the siege on Gaza”
Israel was talking with Hamas even before the latest Gazan war, but only about financial relief. Since the so-called “victory” against Hamas, the talks have included the easing of security restrictions to the point of ending the blockade totally. Netanyahu is no longer striving to topple Hamas but rather to strengthen it for the sake of stability and calm.
Small wonder that Palestinians on the street view Hamas as the true victor.
Political analysts have noted that Hamas’ celebratory demonstrations in the West Bank after Pillar of Defense were the first such displays permitted by the Abbas regime since 2006. However the fact is that Hamas was already flexing its muscle there over a year ago. We have Netanyahu’s Shalit deal to thank for that.
In October 2011, Netanyahu disguised the Shalit deal cave-in to Hamas demands as a victory. Then, as now, the Israeli public swallowed this hook, line and sinker. The alarming display of Hamas support in the theretofore anti-Hamas West Bank was only briefly reported by isolated sources. But there was no beating around the bush.
For instance, the day after Gilad Shalit’s return home, in a piece entitled “Shalit deal throws Hamas a lifeline” [source], Avi Issacharoff wrote in Haaretz that the swap deal that freed abducted soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners was “the first significant achievement since the Hamas government in Gaza was established in January 2006”.
“Tuesday showed that after nearly four years, Hamas has reared its head in the West Bank. It's doing so with Israel's help… It was a sad day… Hamas celebrating in the streets of the West Bank, masses of people vowing to kidnap Israelis, songs of praise of Hamas’ military wing…”
On October 18, 2011, Haaretz reported that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh speaking at a Gaza celebration called the Shalit deal a strategic turning point in Hamas’s struggle against Israel [source].
“It was thanks to our resistance that we were able to release the land and the people…”
Just as the media glossed over this reality, they ignored Netanyahu’s next concession to Hamas terrorists.
In June 2012, he permitted Nizar al-Tamimi to cross the border into Jordan in order to join his fiancée Ahlam Tamimi, the engineer of the Sbarro massacre. Both had been freed in the Shalit deal. Nazir al-Tamimi, convicted in 1993 of killing Chaim Mizrachi and then burning his body, was serving a life sentence. His release was explicitly conditioned on his remaining permanently within the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
Netanyahu decided to give Ahlam Tamimi the “gift” of her fiancé. For the sake of my daughter’s murderer and the murderer of 14 other Jews, among them 8 children, Netanyahu waived that condition. Israel did not benefit in any way.
Once again, Hamas staged a high profile celebration – the murderers’ wedding. And once again, Netanyahu swept the concession under the carpet.
Israelis stand poised to hand Netanyahu a fresh mandate to proceed on his path of submission to terrorists. At this juncture, it would be wise to scrutinize his clandestine actions. Are we pleased that, after Operation Pillar of Defense, Netanyahu agreed to reward the aggressor by expanding Gaza’s fishing area, increasing the amount of construction material entering Gaza and ceding much of our Gaza border buffer zone, excluding only the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings? Is there any sense in that?
And what will Netanyahu hand our enemies next? Do we really want our neighbors, brazenly sworn to our destruction, to work in our midst? Granting Gazans that right is actually being discussed.
Naturally, Netanyahu’s right wing voter base would not be pleased with these revelations. He throws sand in their eyes with his repeated settlement-expansion announcements and prays they stay blinded until election day.
Will we help or hinder his plans?