Last month’s confrontation between Israel and Hamas, and its resolution through an agreement, has reinforced the fiction, long perpetuated by left-liberal policy analysts and journalists, that Hamas can be viewed as relatively moderate. The notion is that, with its governing responsibilities in Gaza, Hamas has become more “responsible.” Behind this fiction lies the view that Hamas should be considered Israel’s emerging “peace partner.” I call this fantasy the “mainstreaming” of Hamas.
But Max Boot points us to the remarks of Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal’s on his triumphal homecoming to the Gaza Strip — a territory he had never previously visited in his life but where he exercises a large degree of influence. Here, via the New York Times, is a report on what Meshaal told a cheering crowd of “tens of thousands”:
Mr. Meshal said the Jewish state would be wiped away through “resistance,” or military action. “The state will come from resistance, not negotiation,” he said. “Liberation first, then statehood.”
His voice rising to a shout, Mr. Meshal said: “Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on any inch of the land.” He vowed that all Palestinian refugees and their descendants would one day return to their original homes in what is now Israel.
“We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation, and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel. . . .We will free Jerusalem inch by inch, stone by stone. Israel has no right to be in Jerusalem.”
The Times notes that these statements reflect the “longstanding” (and I would add, foundational) views of Hamas — nothing new, in other words — “but will only reinforce Israel’s belief that Hamas is its enemy and intends to continue to use military force to reach its goals.” Actually, it’s because his remarks are consistent with Hamas’ longstanding position that Israel is absolutely correct in believing that Hamas is its mortal enemy. And it for this reason that the foreign policy establishment is blowing smoke when it suggests otherwise.
As Boot concludes, “Hamas is quite capable of reaching temporary cease-fires or prisoner releases with Israel in its own tactical interest, but it shows no sign of giving up its goal of annihilating the Israeli state.” And “that is not an acceptable basis for peace talks.”
I would go a step further and say that it was not an acceptable basis for entering into a cease-fire with Hamas.