No place for Hamas if Palestinians are to achieve statehood
While activists are demanding that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas unite under one banner in the face of the Israeli government’s apartheid and racist practices, the fact is there can never be a moment when Palestinians allow the extremist Hamas organization to be an accepted part of a future government.
It doesn’t matter whether or not Hamas has popular support. It is a terrorist organization that has used violence not only to kill innocent people because of their religion or their politics, but also to destroy the Oslo Accords and the peace process that was embraced by Palestine’s legitimate government at the time. Hamas has done everything in its power to undermine Oslo and it is as complicit as Israel’s past and current governments in preventing and destroying peace.
Hamas — whose predecessor group was founded in the 1970s as part of an Israeli strategy to create a religious rival to the growing power of the secular Palestine Liberation Organization and its leader Yasser Arafat — opposes compromise. It has used violence to undermine any Israeli movement to embrace compromise with the Palestinians. Hamas’ waves of suicide bombings and its targeting of civilians, including children, have helped to incite fear and extremism among Israelis.
That is what Hamas’ violence continues to do. So what the Palestinians must do is to crack down on the Hamas extremists who have done everything they can to prevent peace and allow the conflict to continue. The Palestinians need to undermine the extremist rhetoric, arrest the incitement of hate, and prevent violence.
Why do the extremists want the conflict to continue, even as that conflict slowly erodes the rights and existence of Palestinians in historic Palestine? It is because continued conflict prevents compromise and fuels the extremist perception of them being leaders in the eyes of those who are suffering, despite the fact that their leadership has been a failure based on the reality of their historic inability to achieve any gains against Israel’s creeping annexation and devastation of Palestinian life. Israel is slowly and steadily erasing Palestine, and its biggest partner has been the extremism and violence of Hamas.
In the Palestinians’ world of frustration, suffering and statelessness, emotions such as hatred provide a bizarre form of comfort for some — even though their rights continue to erode because of Hamas’ violence.
No Palestinians should support Hamas, but the secular leadership has been cowardly and is afraid to stand up to the extremists, fearing the wrath of the angry masses.
Extremist violence only empowers Israel, whose extremist governments also survive in conflict. They use Hamas’ violence to keep their own people in line and skeptical of peace based on compromise.
There will never be a Palestinian state as long as some Palestinians continue to cling to the hate and violence of Hamas as a fallback plan because of the failure of their divided leadership. And there will never be hope if the advocates of violence are given a voice in a future Palestinian leadership. But the momentum has been building against peace, statehood and Palestinian justice, as anger, despair and suffering turn to violence as a short-sighted respite.
The Palestinians need to undermine the extremist rhetoric, arrest the incitement of hate, and prevent violence.
What Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, who recently offered a counterproposal to US President Donald Trump’s one-sided peace plan, need to do is stand firm and lead the Palestinian people with resolve and courage, built on a foundation of knowing that saving Palestine means compromising on land.
Many Palestinians point to the famous series of maps that show how their land disappeared between 1947, 1967, 1993 and 2020. The reality is that Israel continues to grow while the Palestinians live in a political purgatory of indecisiveness.
The secret to Israel’s success has been conflict. It uses the violence as a shield to thwart Palestinian plans for justice and statehood. Israel needs Hamas and Palestinian violence to survive. Taking that violence away will undermine the extremist Israeli government and redirect the Palestinians’ trajectory away from the abyss and toward the reality of statehood.
- Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. He can be reached on his personal website at www.Hanania.com. Twitter: @RayHanania