The Israeli government is understandably upset with Washington’s decision to deal with the newly announced unity government formed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The anger and frustration is based on Jerusalem’s leaders being taken by surprise by the move and because the U.S. could have and should have based its acceptance on Hamas reforming itself.
Israel should have done the same.
From a public relations point of view, Israel’s angry reaction reinforces its image as stubborn, intolerant and unwilling to interact with the new reality. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could have simply said that his government is happy to meet and negotiate with the leaders of the new Palestinian government — as soon as Hamas, classified as a terror organization by the U.S., announces its willingness to play by the rules as established by the Mideast Quartet of the U.S., the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.
By calling the bluff of Hamas — we all know that it is not about to give up its one true cause — Israel would emerge as the eager peace partner and show up the terror group to be just that.
Instead, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas can carry out his desire to come to the UN this fall, seeking enhanced status, and claim to represent all of the West Bank and Gaza. He will insist that his new government abides by the requirements of the Quartet, which include renouncing violence and accepting previous diplomatic agreements in addition to the recognition of Israel.
For now, Hamas, financially strapped since Egypt closed off tunnels to Gaza used for smuggling, can remain in the diplomatic background so as not to jeopardize the continuation of hundreds of millions of dollars in funds for the unity government from the U.S. and Europe. Yet the terrorist organization continues to call for the destruction of Israel and commit violent acts against the Jewish state while maintaining deniability.
The situation is fraught with unresolved issues, and danger. The focus should be on forcing Hamas to speak up about its supposed 180-degree turn – recognizing Israel and ending its military efforts. Or let its silence speak volumes to the world.