The fundamental flaws in the policy adopted by Washington and Tel Aviv towards Hamas
There are currently two vectors in international diplomacy: the multilateral approach, based on respect for international law, upholding the need to respect agreements signed and using the UNSC as the proper forum for debate and dialogue on an egalitarian and non-discriminatory basis, and the carrot-and-stick approach, unilateralist, based on the economic interests of elitist cliques, favoured by Washington and its protege, Tel Aviv.
The former approach is more and more becoming the norm in international diplomacy, and is the philosophy behind the policies of Brasilia , Moscow , Beijing and New Delhi (the BRIC bloc) and most of the other states in the international community. Contrasted to this is the unilateral approach adopted by the Bush regime, whereby international laws and diplomatic norms are tools to be used and abused at will, which rather than being mainstays of a policy based on right and morals, are simply means to justify an end. Machiavelli-style politics, in the 21st Century.
Together with the medieval politics, we have medieval methods – the concentration camps at Abu Ghraib, Baghram and Guantanamo, the torture, the widespread horrific and depraved acts of sexual perversion perpetrated against innocent prisoners, the illegal invasions, the illegal occupation of territory, the human rights abuses, the deployment of weaponry against civilian targets, the acts of mass murder, the slaughtering of civilians, the rape of women – methods favoured by Washington and/or Tel Aviv.
The knee-jerk reaction to the democratic election vistory of HAMAS is further evidence (if such were needed) of where this outdated and misplaced policy has gone fundamentally wrong. True, HAMAS has been historically based on a platform which is not only hostile to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, as per the UNO definition, but has also stated that it does not recognise Israel’s right to exist.
How many of the pro-Israeli Americans would agree that the neighbour who took over their apple orchard, commandeered their house and livestock, armed themselves to the teeth, built a colony there and refused to budge had any right to be there at all and how many of these Americans would recognise this right?
However, international diplomacy has these difficult and complex questions and using a simplistic attempt to resolve them creates more problems than it solves. That is the reason behind the United National Organization and its Security Council, which recognise Israel’s right to exist, albeit within its own internationally-recognised borders, not some insane notion of a greater Israel based on some books written thousands of years ago.
Therefore HAMAS, having been democratically and legally elected to represent the Palestinian people in today’s world, has to recognise this right, yet how is the movement to make a volte-face from one moment to the next? Intelligent observers would have noticed that HAMAS tempered down the statements about Israel’s right to exist during the recent election campaign and those who brand it as an outright terrorist organization (due to the activities of its military wing, Izzedine al-Qassam brigades) fail to mention that the practical manifestation of HAMAS for ordinary Palestinians is its social programme (schools, hospitals and the like).
As a result of this, the most intelligent diplomatic policy to follow would be to open the way for dialogue, goading HAMAS towards what must be recognised as its responsibility in today’s international community, while the same would apply to Israel : following the guidelines set out under the Road Map. The Russian Federation was quick to recognise this and within a few weeks of the election, discussions were under way in Moscow.
And what do Washington and Tel Aviv do? While refusing to dialogue, despite HAMAS’ tentative first olive branch to begin talks, the USA asks the Palestinian Authority to hand back 50 million USD in aid, which has been done, and Israel withholds 50 million USD in customs dues. They take a much-needed 100 million dollars out of the Palestinian coffers and refuse to speak to a democratically elected government.
Turning off the tap affects the average man on the street more than the leaders and turning the back on a first approach towards an offer of discussion slams the door in the face of any incipient long-lasting peace process, hardening those who would like to see through a step-by-step path towards mutual existence within in secure borders into feelings of sullen hatred.
Once again, Washington and Tel Aviv get it wrong. Zero marks for diplomacy.