Arafat's chickens have come home to roost [Excerpts]
Final results of [the January 25th] Palestinian legislative elections are still trickling in. But one thing is sure: Yasser Arafat's chickens have come home to roost. After decades of dictatorial and corrupt control by the late Fatah leader and his cohorts, vast numbers of voters in both the West Bank and Gaza have angrily turned their back on Arafat's heirs and given their support to rival Hamas, the radical Islamic party.
Trouble is Hamas remains the same terrorist party it's always been, a heavily armed, blood-drenched gang that boasts of suicide bombings and doesn't even pretend to want peace with Israel. Its goals are crystal clear: the total annihilation of the Jewish state in favor of an Islamic state throughout the entire Holy Land. Its presence in a Palestinian government is hardly incentive for Israel to follow up on its recent withdrawal from Gaza and move ahead on the U.S.-sponsored road map to Mideast peace.
The danger is that there are already some in Israel -- and a growing flock outside -- who talk about the need for Israel to launch a dialogue with Hamas leaders -- as though talking to this band of religious fanatics who hate Jews and Christians would be any more successful than trading land for peace was with the Arafat gang. Yet there are those who argue that if Hamas gains political responsibility, it will find itself forced to weed out its militants, eventually turn from terror and moderate its policies.
Of course, Hamas plays the word game -- just as Arafat always did. One top Hamas leader recently raised the magnanimous possibility of holding "negotiations" with Israel through a third party. "Negotiation is not a taboo," said Mahmoud Zahar, just two days before the elections. Three days earlier he made the real Hamas position starkly clear. "We do not recognize the Israeli enemy, nor his right to be our neighbor, nor to stay on the land, nor his ownership of any inch of land," Zahar told Palestinian TV. "Palestine is a land of Islamic trust, which cannot be given up."
Which means that any kind of deal with Hamas would have about as much meaning as a truce with Osama Bin Laden