Opinion Editorials, January 2006, To see today's opinion articles, click here: www.aljazeerah.info
US Secretary of State Rice Can Do Better Than Beating on Hamas and Punishing the Palestinian People
By Hassan El-Najjar
Al-Jazeerah, January 30, 2006
Since Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections last week, Israeli leaders started a campaign that aims at punishing the Palestinian people for exercising their right of voting for whoever they deem trustworthy.
The punishment so far is financial. The Palestinian Authority will not receive Palestinian revenues that the Israeli government collects. Further, supporters of Israel in the US, EU, and World Bank rushed lining up in the punishment camp.
The Palestinian people are waiting now for punishment in the form of denying them their revenues and the little aid pledged to the Palestinian Authority in the form of salaries for government employees.
By the way, these are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob whose ancestors believed in the message of Jesus and became Christians, then when Muhammed came they became Muslims.
They are now being punished by those who pretend to revere Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as if it was not enough to force them out of their lands without compensation in 1948, or without allowing them to return to their property ever since.
So, what is this fuss all about?The official Israeli excuse (that is blindly used by the US-EU officials) is that Hamas is a terrorist organization. It doe not recognize Israel. It has not disarmed its militia.
If terrorism is killing civilians for political purposes, it has been the practice of the Israeli government since its inception. With regard to Hamas, it has observed a year-long truce, that Israel has never observed. So, it should be Israel which should be demanded to stop terrorism, not Hamas.
Leaders of Hamas addressed the other issues in a clear way that does not leave to Israel or its supporters any excuse to exact punishment on the Palestinian people.
The leader of Hamas, Khaled Mesha’al answered the three demands posed by US Secretary of States, Condoleezza Rice, which are also Israeli demands in the first place.
First, he said that the Hamas Charter does not include any statements about the destruction of Israel. So, the US Secretary of State has to be more accurate than just repeating the propaganda of the Israeli leaders and the Western corporate media machine supporting them.
Second, with regard to disarming the Hamas militia members, Mesha’al said that Hamas is willing to do just that by absorbing them, together with members of other militias, in the Palestinian national army, which is going to be under the government control, like all armies in the world.
Third, concerning recognition, it has to be mutual just like what happened before between the PLO and the Israeli government. When the two parties agreed to talk to each other, it was an automatic de facto recognition that was later formalized by signing agreements which included formal recognition.
Fourth, Hamas leaders, including Mesha’al and Haniyeh, announced that Hamas would uphold all the international agreements the Palestinian Authority signed, including those signed with the Israeli government. This means that Hamas has accepted the peace process and agreed to follow it.
Thus, there’s no need for all this fuss, Ms. Secretary. Just calm down and use your diplomatic channels to communicate to Hamas leaders what you want them to do EXACTLY.
I’m sure you can do it, and if you need help ask George Shultz or his aids how t hey did it with the PLO in 1988. If you don't find anybody to ask, you may want to look at the State Department archives. Just try to do your job as a US Secretary of State, for God’s Sake, not as those parrots in the pro-Israel corporate media who just repeat the baseless claims of Israeli leaders, without any verification.
Rice Urges No Aid to Hamas Government
By ANNE GEARAN
AP Diplomatic Writer
Jan 30, 2006, 8:16 AM EST
LONDON (AP) -- The United States wants other nations to cut off aid to a Hamas-led Palestinian government, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said ahead of an international strategy session on Mideast peace prospects.
Rice ruled out any U.S. financial assistance to a Hamas government.
Humanitarian help to the Palestinians, many of whom are poor and unemployed, is likely on a "case-by-case basis," Rice said Sunday. She indicated that the administration would follow through on aid promised to the current, U.S.-backed Palestinian government led by President Mahmoud Abbas.
"The United States is not prepared to fund an organization that advocates the destruction of Israel, that advocates violence and that refuses its obligations," under an international framework for eventual Mideast peace, Rice said.
Rice was meeting other members of the so-called Quartet of would-be Mideast peacemakers Monday. The group, which includes the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, is already on record as saying "there is a fundamental contradiction between armed group and militia activities and the building of a democratic state."
In Gaza meanwhile, a Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, called on the international community to continue funding the Palestinian Authority.
"We assure you that all the revenues will be spent on salaries, daily life and infrastructure," he said at a news conference, addressing international concerns that aid would be used to fund violence.
Diplomats here said ministers with the European Union were ready to jointly call on Hamas to recognize the state of Israel, renounce violence and disarm.
Warder reports Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is promising to cut off U-S aid to the Palestinian government once the Hamas Islamic Resistance Movement takes over
While EU officials are barred from contact with the Islamic resistance group, which it considers a “terrorist” organization (but never considered Israeli government as terrorist when it targeted Palestinian civilians – Al-Jazeerah), the EU statement was to make clear that the EU would keep diplomatic channels open with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is not a member of Hamas, diplomats said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the talks.
Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, won a decisive majority in last week's Palestinian legislative elections. The group, which has political and military wings, will now take a large role in governing the Palestinians.
Hamas' unexpected electoral victory raised questions about the future of the peace process between the Palestinians and Israel, and how the United States can influence such efforts or help impoverished Palestinians.
"We're going to review all of our assistance programs, but the bedrock principle here is we can't have funding for an organization that holds those views just because it is in government," Rice said.
"It is important that Hamas now will have to confront the implications of its covenant if it wishes to govern," Rice said. "That becomes a primary consideration in anything that we do."
It is not clear that all European nations or the United Nations would cut off aid, let alone Arab governments that do not recognize Israel.
"I just think that anyone who is devoted to trying to bring Middle East peace between two states has an obligation now to make sure that anybody that is going to be supported is going to have that same" goal, Rice said.
U.S. aid is a small part of the $1.6 billion annual budget of the Palestinian Authority.
About $1 billion comes from overseas donors - more than half of that from European nations. The rest is a mix of funds from international donor agencies, Arab and Asian governments, and the U.S., which gave $70 million in direct aid to the Palestinian Authority last year.
Separately, the U.S. spent $225 million for humanitarian projects through the U.S. Agency for International Development last year, and gave $88 million for refugee assistance.
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