Israel must be having second thoughts on the folly of having yielded
to U.S. pressure and allowed Hamas to participate in elections.
For Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and
employs suicide-bomb attacks on civilians, has just won a sweeping
political and moral victory in Palestine.
and democracy are on the march, says President Bush. Perhaps.
But there is no doubt Islamism is on the march.
is Hamas now the voice of Palestinian nationalism, Hezbollah used
elections to establish itself as the political power in south
Lebanon. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood swept over half the
parliamentary seats it was allowed to contest and appears the
probable beneficiary to the political estate of President Mubarak.
In the Iraqi
elections, Shia militants wiped up the floor with secularists
like ex-Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and Ahmed Chalabi. In Iran,
the dark horse who stormed to victory in the 2005 elections is
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose commentaries on the Holocaust and wiping
Israel "off the map" have even the Ayatollah nervous.
In the two provinces of Pakistan that border Afghanistan, pro-Taliban
fundamentalists swept the boards in recent elections.
poll of 3,900 people in six Arab nations which revealed rampant
distrust of U.S. motives and widespread detestation of Bush and
Sharon appears to have been on the mark.
do we do now?
it is an uncomplicated question. Both the "peace process"
and the "roadmap," agreed to by the European Union,
United Nations, Russia and the United States, have long been,
as Sharon aide Dov Weinglass put it, in "formaldehyde."
not negotiate with a government that includes Hamas and will proceed
on the course set by Sharon after Bush gave him a green light
in April 2004. Having pulled out of Gaza, Israel will wall in
all Jewish settlements surrounding Jerusalem and the city itself,
deny Palestinians any right of return, annex the choicest cuts
of the West Bank and leave the shank to the Palestinians.
No one --
not the Palestinians, not the Arab world, not the EU -- will accept
this Bantustan solution, except the Americans. But that is all
that counts with Israelis -- be it Labor, Likud or Kadima.
Bush do? Nothing. Any attempt to force Israel to negotiate on
settlements or East Jerusalem would put the White House in a withering
crossfire. The Christian right and neocons would accuse him of
a "Munich," while Democrats and the Israeli lobby savage
him for forcing Israel to "negotiate with terrorists."
Bush probably agrees with them.
But if Israel's
course seems clear -- proceed to a separation of the two peoples,
wall herself in and rely on U.S. moral, military and materiel
support indefinitely -- what should U.S. policy be?
elections as America's roadmap to peace, Bush cannot credibly
say we will only accept elected leaders who share our views and
values. But he should demand, as we did after the Oslo Accords,
that every party to any negotiation renounce terror.
As for negotiating
with terrorists like Hamas, is this not just what Bush did when
he agreed to lift sanctions on Khadafi, who had been behind the
air massacre of Pan Am 103? In return, Bush got a commitment from
Khadafi to compensate the victims' families, surrender his weapons
of mass destruction and forego any right to build such weapons.
presidential campaign, Bush's men touted the Libya agreement as
a diplomatic triumph that proved the mailed fist in Iraq had induced
moderation in the Arab world.
As the situation
is evolving in the Middle East, Bush is going to have to modify
or abandon his democracy crusade, or eat some crow and start talking
to the Islamists who get elected. As for Israel, she may believe
isolationism and reliance on America is a winning strategy. Demography
the latest UN population projections for mid-century for Israel's
neighbors, friend and foe.
Population in 2050
Lebanon ---- 5 million
West Bank, Gaza ---- 10 million
Jordan ---- 10 million
Syria ---- 36 million
Saudi Arabia ---- 49 million
Iraq ---- 64 million
Iran ---- 102 million
Egypt ---- 126 million
10 million, 6 million will be Palestinians. Of Israel's estimated
population of 10 million, 2.5 million to 3 million will be Arabs.
elections tell us is that Arab peoples believe they have been
misruled by corrupt leaders, with U.S. support, and the Palestinians
have been brutalized, with U.S. support, and their only hope lies
in Islamic militants who understand this.
Israel talks to these folks, or slams the door in their faces,
is her call. But if we do not wish to be as isolated, we have
to talk to them. For, in the Middle East, time does not appear
to be on our side.