Editorial: Proof Enough

Let’s do some logic:

FACT A: Before the exceptional United States Special Forces mission that led to the slaying of Osama bin Laden, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas reached a historic agreement about cooperation.

FACT A-1: Hamas does not renounce violence or recognize Israel as part of this action.

FACT B: When bin Laden was killed, Hamas, known for its persistent, pro-terror message, weighed in with this gem through Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh: “We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior…We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood.”

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Let’s take a deep breath at this point and try to figure out what the State of Israel could deduce or infer from these facts:

• That there is a broader level of understanding between the PA and Hamas than in the past.

• That to reach such understanding, each party undoubtedly has something the other covets (that is almost always the case in a successful negotiation): For PA, having access to the population of Gaza and promotion of a unified front to the world community seem two such considerations; for Hamas, latching onto the greater international recognition of the PA and the ability to bring more substantial economic development to Gaza might be two pressing concerns.

• That to reach such understanding, Hamas was not required to renounce violence or the refusal to recognize Israel.

So if you’re Israel and now the PA has an ally that has proven time and again, including last week at Osama’s killing, that it has no interest in peaceful coexistence with Israel, how do you react? Are you glad that the two sides are working together, which could lead to a single party to deal with in negotiations among sovereigns (whether the PA-Hamas union chooses to advocate for a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian homeland or not)? Or do you fear (which would also be a normal reaction given the history) that Hamas’ mission and tactics will infiltrate the work of the PA?

Well, let’s get on with the remaining facts and see:

FACT C: Israel stops transfering tax revenue to the PA as a result of the PA-Hamas cooperation agreement.

FACT D: The PA, through its Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, is all upset with Israel’s withholding, which it says will lead to major layoffs, and calls the withholding a violation of international law.

Despite the outspoken burst from Fayyad and others, this response by Israel is hardly one that should send shock waves through the world community and should be perfectly understandable even by the not-always-adept folks at the United Nations.

Consider if Pakistan overtly stated that it had adopted a formal partnership with Al Qaeda, but seemed offended or indignant that the United States had all of a sudden stopped sending aid to their nation. Would it be fair or sensible for Pakistan to expect such aid to continue in that scenario? Obviously not.

There are at least two levels to the analysis. The first is the conceptual. Would the U.S.  in that case, or Israel in this one,  want the world to think that accepting, yea, almost endorsing, terrorism, is an acceptable step toward peace?

The second, pragmatic level relates to the pipeline of funds. If the PA and Hamas have a deal, does this deal involve the exchange of revenue? Do we have proof that it doesn’t? So if now the PA empowers Hamas not only by recognizing them as an ally but by funneling dollars to a known terrorist group that can subsequently funnel dollars to harming Israel, is this something Israel can accept?

Of course not. And this refusal by Israel would be considered normal, hold-the-course-against-terrorism in virtually any other part of the world.

Terrorist and violent groups can become mainstreamed. It’s happened on a variety of occasions, most notably in Northern Ireland.  But to do so, there has to be major proof, at some level, that the group at the bargaining table has renounced hatred, terrorism and physical violence as an acceptable tactic in the quest for peace.  

This Hamas has not done. And until it does, there is absolutely no way that Israel can deal with, or fund, an entity or coalition that considers Hamas to be a partner.

As they say in Latin, quod erat demonstratum – Q.E.D. Thus it is proven.