these guys also lack water slides

http://apnews.myway.com//article/20060127/D8FCPLKG1.html

Yeah… it’s tricky. The truth is that they were mainly elected because of their social programs and their reputation for honesty (they have no problems murdering children, but at least they tell people about it), as opposed to the PA’s wishy-washiness, weakness, and hands in the tiller. My belief is that if Hamas’s main election platform was centered around fighting with Israel, they wouldn’t have gotten elected.

What does that mean? The Palestinians wanted janitors, and they got warriors. Warriors with mops, but still warriors.

I’ve heard several pundits say that it would be far better for Israel to deal with Hamas than the PA, due to the aforementioned honesty. The PA had a nasty tendency of declaiming peace in English and Hebrew and war in Arabic. At least now we know where we stand.

The next few months are going to be CRAZY in Israel what with this new development and Ariel Sharon still in a coma, with his new party still in the lead without him. Ehud Olmert really can’t mess up in the next couple of weeks if he wants to stay on top.

Bottom line: No one has any freaking clue what’s going to happen now.

You know, this reminds me of the french communist party incident a year-two ago, how a communist party almost made it in the vote. Everyone started looking at each other and couldn’t just accept the fact that it was the will of the people.

And then Bush cheats.

Democracy. Right.

Psh.

(Sorries, the party I voted for last time resigned from the government about 6 months after they started their season.)

Cid is right. I also think that ultimately we need to consider how this IS the legitimately elected Palestinian government and just saying “oh we don’t want to deal with you” is a dangerous approach. You don’t just invalidate a legitimately elected government. I think of this as an oppurtunity to draw more of the good from Hamas (aforementioned social aspects) and try to get it to not necessarily disarm, but be interested in being involved in the peace process. Now that would be a huge gain. I think we have to remember that the PLO was in a bit of a situation like Hamas once, althoguh like Cid explained, the PA’s not all that useful.

Well, we validate or invalidate them based on their actions. Don’t forget, Nazi Germany was also a legitimately elected government.

Exactly. It’s an entierly new situation. We can’t really and we shouldn’t really do anything but wait and see what happens, certainly, no one should condemn what has happened and refuse to negotiate with a government including Hamas. They have moderated themselves and they have shown that they’ve enough internal control to actually maintain a cease fire.

No, not really. They didn’t have majority.

Sin: If that would happen, sure, that’d be great. But permit me to be a bit cynical on this score. Hamas’s charter still calls for the destruction of Israel. Until Hamas renounces that (and since it’s their entire raison d’etre, it won’t happen any time soon) Israel can’t even bother talking to it. “Well, how about this? We’ll give you the West Bank, and you won’t kill all of us?” “No… but maybe we’ll wait another ten years to kill you so the world will have forgotten the things you’ve given us when we do it.”

Anything peaceful Hamas does right now can be assumed to be mediocre attempts at tactics, rather than strategy. Hamas is not interested in peace; if it goes along with it, it would always be with a goal to a more efficient war in the future.

And yes, Hamas by itself can’t destroy Israel (it has neither the firepower nor the expertise) but Hamas’s main contributor is Iran - yes, the same Iran which has expressed a desire to “wipe Israel off the map” and who is making very loud rumblings about nuclear weapons. With Hamas in government, Iran can point to it as legitimacy for its depraved ideas.

Anyway… I certainly hope that Hamas can be moderated, but I don’t think there’s any chance it’ll happen.

Nulani: They won a plurality, but Hitler did cheat like crazy.

Cid: Remember: if Hamas is the recognized government of the Palestinians, that means Hamas members will be the future political leaders of any Palestinian state. Its easy to call for the destruction of Israel when you know that you won’t get power if there’s peace - now that they will, they may see things a little differently.

We can only hope no one does anything stupid. Even if they don’t have the firepower to wipe out Israel, they can make a fair sized dent. Dents aren’t good.

Curtis makes the point I want to say, although I think it is appropriate for Cid (and others) to have reservations considering the funding and purpose of the organization.

Correct me if I’m wrong, I thought that Hamas had recently removed the reference to the destruction of Israel from its charter?

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/01/27/palestinian.election/index.html

My question is, how different are these guys from the Fatah?

Cid: Remember: if Hamas is the recognized government of the Palestinians, that means Hamas members will be the future political leaders of any Palestinian state. Its easy to call for the destruction of Israel when you know that you won’t get power if there’s peace - now that they will, they may see things a little differently.

Except that Hamas has been running mainly on popularity. This is the first election they’ve been in. Their ideology still stands. Hamas is much more than the 70 or so politicians who’ve won power: they’re all the little people who feel religiously inclined to blow up others in the search for paradise, and they aren’t going to be particularly interested in stopping just because some of their friends get a government office.

Syria and Iran are “in power” and have been for a long while, nor would that power be threatened by peace with Israel. They’re still virulently anti-Semitic and dedicated to destroying Israel.

Correct me if I’m wrong, I thought that Hamas had recently removed the reference to the destruction of Israel from its charter?

It’s still there. The only thing they removed is references to destroying Israel in their election platform. Their charter hasn’t changed.

My question is, how different are these guys from the Fatah?

Fatah is Yasser Arafat’s organization, the (up till now) leaders of the Palestinian Authority. They also have a terrorist wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which has perpetrated plenty of bloody murder on their own (but since it’s a “spinoff” or “related” faction rather than a direct faction, that fact is often glossed over). Besides being plagued with corruption, Fatah has begun splintering recently, as the younger and more violent members dislike the older, more crotchety members’ tactics and stances.

Hamas has been Fatah’s main rival since the late '80s. The main ideological difference is that Hamas has categorically refused to negotiate with Israel, saying that jihad is the only way forward, and that the entire Israel must be destroyed. Fatah has been more pragmatic, preferring to use a multi-pronged attack against Israel whereby they negotiate and profess peace with one hand and encourage low-level attacks and anti-Semitism with the other, hoping to slowly grind Israel down till there’s nothing left.

So far, this is the official position of the Israeli government:
“Tzipi Livni (Israeli Foreign Minister) appealed to the international community not to legitimize a Palestinian government led by Hamas.”
Also, Fatah leaders decided not to enter a joint government with Hamas. The Peace process is on hold for now.

Cid, there are still a few settlements in the West Bank to be dismantled. Would recent developments affect this in any way? If Netanyahu comes to power in March, wouldn’t that be even more dangerous for the region?

I think this is actually a good point Seifer makes. If Netanyahu and Likud get elected, esp since the more moderate elements of Likud left with Sharon (to my understanding), then this could really fuck a lot of people’s shit up.

No one has ever actually come straight out and said how much, if any, of the West Bank is to be dismantled. Contrary to popular belief, most of the West Bank was not settled illegally (“disputed” is the word), and there are many, many Jews in it. It’d be a political powderkeg to dismantle it in the best case. It’s not like Gaza because a) there’s more religious importance to the actual land; b) there are over 100,000 Jews, as opposed to Gaza’s 8,000; and c) the Gaza handover itself didn’t exactly go amazingly. Some of the evicted residents are still living in hotels, with their children missing almost a year of school already, and Gaza is now pretty much ruled by anarchy.

Even Sharon never explicitly said he’d be giving back West Bank land. So there isn’t much to screw up, truth be told. We can’t say whether Netanyahu coming to power would be good or bad… the last thing we need is a bleeding-heart government to negotiate to give land back to Hamas, only to have Hamas turn around and shoot us in the back afterwards. IMO Land should only be given back if there’s a real indication of change in the other party, and so far there hasn’t been. Gaza was, if anything, a proof of that.

As for Fatah not joining the government, Abbas is still the Prime Minister, and he’s hinted that Israel might want to deal with the PLO rather than the PA, which nicely sidesteps the whole issue… but it’s a bit sneaky.

What exactly was Sharon’s and is the Israelis plan? I’ve heard that its too complete the wall, cut the Palestinians off economically, and force an exodus to Jordan… as well crippling their ability to fund terrorism.

No one knows their full plan because they’ve never told anyone, but that’s pretty close. I don’t know about forcing an exodus to Jordan, though.