Inside the Hamas Strategy

(New Republic) Ehud Yaari - * Hamas is offering Israel an open-ended armistice in exchange for a well-armed and independent Palestinian state; a prolonged cessation of hostilities, but no peace treaty and no resolution of the conflict's underlying issues. They will keep their terrorist weaponry on safety, without giving it up. * Hamas is presenting this political vision in order to smooth its way to hegemony. Hamas wants to provide the Europeans and the U.S. with the illusion of progress toward peace so that they will continue giving aid to the Palestinian Authority. * At least for the near future, Hamas will not confront Fatah, choosing instead to co-opt its rival and gradually erode its power. In the meantime, Fatah retains some power. * If Israel deludes itself into thinking that Hamas is about to undergo a purifying metamorphosis, it will wake up to discover that Islamic fundamentalists are running the PA - without even pretending to accept Israel's right to exist. * Hamas is forging a long-term strategy, building up its future capabilities instead of cashing in immediately on its election gains. Using Abbas rather than pushing him aside. Joining up with the security apparatuses rather than purging them. Hamas needs time to digest its prey. * Israel should freeze its economic agreements, border procedures, and all other dealings with the PA. A diplomatic siege and an active boycott should be developed, coupled with persistence in counterterrorism operations.

2006-02-07 00:00:00

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