January 26, 2006

by Andrew Silow-Carroll
No talks with Hamas -- unless...

Interesting statement from Orthodox Union president Stephen Savitsky and executive vice president Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb on the Hamas victory:


We, along with all people of good will, are gravely concerned over the election victory by Hamas in yesterday’s elections...

We call upon the international community to be mindful of the “Quartet’s” statement on December 28, 2005, that “those who want to be part of the political process should not engage in armed group or militia activities, for there is a fundamental contradiction between such activities and the building of a democratic state. In this regard, the Quartet calls on all participants to renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist, and disarm.” We applaud President George Bush for his leadership and commitment to ensuring a strong and secure Israel. In remarks directed toward Hamas yesterday, the President stated: “not until you renounce your desire to destroy Israel will we deal with you.”

Now is a time of testing for the civilized democracies of our world to remain firm in the face of terrorists and rogue regimes and insist that they not only speak appropriately but act appropriately if they wish to be welcomed into the community of nations.”

Interesting that OU suggests Hamas could be legitimized, a la Sinn Fein, if it meets certain conditions. Contrast with Daniel Pipes, who wrote that "It was a mistake to permit Hamas to compete in elections. Like al-Qaeda, Hamas should be destroyed, not legitimated, much less courted."
Could be signs of an interesting split emerging among hardliners.

UPDATE: More organizational reacts. ADL hints that the world should be willing to deal with Hamas should it cease to be an "armed terrorist group", but isn't holding its breath:

History has shown time and again that extremist groups come to power by promising a better life for the people, but once governing, implement their extremist policies. As long as Hamas remains an armed terrorist group it cannot be a partner for peace or accepted as a legitimate government by the international community of nations.

Jewish Council on Public Affairs offers the legitimization option a little more explicitly:

The international community resolutely should refuse to deal with Hamas or a Hamas-led government, unless and until the organization formally and verifiably renounces the use of terror and rejects its charter calling for Israel's destruction.

American Jewish Congress, however, offers no version of the "if they change, we can talk to them" rhetoric:

There are some who retain the illusion that, now that Hamas is part of the political process, it will moderate and support peace with Israel – much in the same way that Fatah, the dominant party in the PLO, did so. Those who hold to this vain hope misread history and ignore the differences between the PLO and Hamas. First of all, in the end, Fatah and the PLO never fully supported peace.

SECOND UPDATE: ZOA clocks in, and not surprisingly, offers no conditions under which the U.S. or the world should deal with Hamas. It praises President Bush for his statement that "he would not deal with the radical Hamas/Islamist party regardless of how many seats it won in yesterday’s Palestinian parliamentary elections," but, unlike the OU, leaves out the part where Bush tells Hamas "not until you renounce your desire to destroy Israel will we deal with you.”

The ZOA now calls on President Bush to heed the recent letter from a majority of Congress not to negotiate with Hamas. The ZOA also urges President Bush to end all aid to the new Hamas/PA regime. Recent ZOA polls have shown that by a margin of 61% to 28%, Americans want no negotiations with Hamas members, and over 80% want all aid to the Palestinian Authority stopped. It would be unconscionable that funds now go to the PA when it is in the hands of an unequivocally terrorist movement. As part of the US war on radical Islamic terror, the US must fight this Hamas regime, not legitimize or strengthen it.”

VERY LATEST UPDATE: AIPAC weighs in, with clear conditions for Hamas:

"The United States must not recognize Hamas as a legitimate party in the democratic process until it agrees to renounce and end violence, dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, recognize Israel's right to exist, and agree to conduct direct negotiations with Israel."

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