This week, there were two historic political events in the Middle East. In one, Israeli voters chose a number of political parties for the next Knesset, with the ruling Kadima party earning the most votes. Kadima's agenda, as articulated by acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, is to seek negotiations with a Palestinian leadership that rejects violence. If no such leadership can be found, Israel will unilaterally set its own borders.
In the other development, the terrorist organization Hamas formally assumed control of the Palestinian Authority legislature. Due to Hamas' unwavering support for terror and the destruction of Israel, the United States and Canada immediately cut off funding to the PA.
CNN's Amanpour on Hamas' New Government
Christiane Amanpour has penned a column with the title "From terrorism to trash collection." She implies that merely by winning the Palestinian elections, Hamas has moved on from terrorism to concern itself solely with municipal functions.
The only problem with her theory is that there has been no evidence that Hamas has indeed changed its views on terrorism. According to the new PA Interior Minister, Said Siam, "We will not put our sons in prison for political membership or resisting occupation... resistance is a legitimate right."
Amanpour feels that the real reason the Palestinians voted for Hamas was that:
During this year's election, Palestinians fed up with the rampant corruption and lawlessness of the late Yasser Arafat's government turned to the only alternative, Hamas.
So when people ask: "Why did the Palestinian people elect a terrorist group?" The answer is because they see them as a lifeline.
Yet, as Robert Satlof of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy points out in the Weekly Standard:
The problem with this view is that it has little basis in fact. Other parties on the ballot offered alternatives to Fatah, including the good-government Third Way, but Hamas won 74 seats and the squeaky-clean liberals just 2. Indeed, it is an uncomfortable truth that an absolute majority of Palestinians voted for parties publicly committed to the destruction of Israel--Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. To suggest that Palestinians were oblivious to the political meaning of their votes is, as President Bush has argued in a different context, the soft bigotry of low expectations.
It is disturbing to see a such a senior CNN correspondent making excuses for the Hamas terror group, even resorting to baseless claims that conflict with all indications.
E-mail CNN at: http://edition.cnn.com/feedback/
The New York Times On Israel's New Government
In an editorial, the Times argues that Olmert's plan is doomed to failure because:
Whatever borders Israel fixes are not likely to get international recognition, particularly if those borders leave Palestinians cut in half -- in the West Bank and Gaza -- and unable to get from one part of their country to another without going through Israel.
However, there have already been numerous proposals agreed upon in which Gaza would be connected to the West Bank with some kind of link that does not necessitate either Israelis or Palestinians crossing through each other's lands. The same type of links could be worked out in other places to ensure contiguity for both peoples.
Respond to the editorial: Letters@NYTimes.com
The media should not expect Israel to take actions that jeopardize its own security. Instead the focus should be on explaining how Hamas has failed thus far to transform itself from the party of terror to the party of trash collection.
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