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Jewish World Review
June 22, 2005
/ 15 Sivan, 5765
White House strategy: Exit Abbas, enter Hamas?
Richard Z. Chesnoff
You could almost hear the deep sigh of relief from the White House yesterday when Israeli leader Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas finally sat down for their first face to face in five months.
But relief alone isn't enough, and there's
growing talk that the Bush administration, impatient over lack of visible movement toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, may soon trash longstanding American policy and authorize limited U.S. diplomatic contact with Abbas' chief rival and Israel's worst enemy: the Islamic terrorist organization known as Hamas.
Talk about potential disasters!
This extremely dangerous diplomatic turn may be precipitated in part by growing fear in the administration that Yasser Arafat's heir doesn't have the stuff needed to make peace happen and by frustration with Sharon's internal political woes.
It's also hard for both President Bush and Secretary of State Rice to ignore hard facts on the West Bank/Gaza ground. Abbas' PLO Fatah organization remains racked by corruption and ineffectiveness. The PLO continues to lose popularity while Hamas gains.
During recent Palestinian municipal elections, the group campaigned on a clean government platform and won nearly half of the municipal councils at stake!
So, what's wrong with talking to Hamas? A lot. As Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy recently put it, "Hamas is more than just a party with which we disagree; it is a terrorist organization responsible for the murder of hundreds of
Israelis, Americans and citizens of many other countries."
Hamas may someday fit into an acceptable political equation. It must first, however, seriously morph from a terrorist organization into a legitimate political party that both rejects violence and finds a meaningful formula for recognizing Israel's right to exist.
Unlike Islamic Jihad and a few other wacko Palestinian terrorist groups, Hamas claims it is officially abiding by the PLO-orchestrated ceasefire with Israel.
We shall see.
But until Hamas completely sheds its bloody terrorist cloak, the Bush administration should stay the course and avoid all contact with the group. Legitimizing Hamas will further weaken Abbas, reward Hamas for its horrid history of terror and turn Israel's Gaza withdrawal into a Hamas victory.
It would also be a posthumous slap in the face to Hamas' multitude of victims.
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The Arrogance of the French
This book will open your eyes!
Why do the French hate America? Richard Chesnoff has figured it out and informs us with entertaining clarity.
France sucks, but this book doesn't.
Michael Barone, Co-author, The Almanac of American Politics
Americans-and the French-will learn a lot from this book.
Clifford D. May, President, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Richard Z. Chesnoff insightfully-and entertainingly-explores America's most dysfunctional relationship with America's least reliable ally.
Sales help fund JWR.
JWR contributor and veteran journalist Richard Z. Chesnoff is a contributing correspondent at US News & World Report, a columnist at the NY Daily News and a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Demoracies. A two-time winner of the Overseas Press Club Award and a recipient of the National Press Club Award, he was formerly executive editor of Newsweek International. His latest book, is "The Arrogance of the French: Why They Can't Stand Us & Why The Feeling Is Mutual". (Click on cover above to purchase. Sales help fund JWR. )
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