Can Hamas be brought to the peace table?
Published on September 18, 2003 By Larry Kuperman In Current Events
I read an interesting article in Time Magazine today entitled "Inside the War on Hamas." I have linked to it below.

Two things are apparent to me:
1- Under the current state of affairs, no real peace process can go forward without the active participation of Hamas. I don't just mean peace between Israel and the Palestinians, I mean peace in the entire region. Please note also that I began by saying "Under the current state of affairs."
2- Hamas has little or no incentive to participate in any such process. Their power can perhaps be only used to derail any process.

It would be very naive to think that Hamas is not actively associated with Al Queda and other terrorist organizations. They are certainly well funded and well supplied. No shortage of bombs or money. So we are looking at a powerful organization, with perhaps billions of dollars in funding and an international reach

Within the Occupied Territories Hamas exerts tremendous political power. Would the organization and its leaders retain this power if a peaceful accord was reached? Unlikely. Of course, Israel's former Prime Minister Menachim Begin was part of an organization that committed acts of terrorism against the British and later assumed power in a legitimate government, so there is a possibility. But the degree of power is quite different. Hamas leaders basically have the power of life and death within their enclaves.

Having said that, what would compel them to yield this power to a civilian government? I pose this as a question, but would not be surprised if the only answer was brute force, probably international is scope. Maybe someone will see an answer that I don't.

on Sep 19, 2003
The problem with Hamas and many other 'freedom fighter' terrorists is the general support they receive from the population.

I would totally agree with you that no peace is possible at the moment without the participation of Hamas. This is a very similar situation to Northern Ireland in the 70's and 80's. Peace was not possible without active participation of the majority terrorist groups.

I believe that your second statement 'Hamas has little or no incentive to participate in any such process' is too broad. Without a doubt some members of Hamas are only in it for the killing and the power they have and fear they create, but I believe that most of them would be honestly willing to negotiate a settlement if they trusted Israel to deliver. It's again similar to Northern Ireland, splinter groups of right wing terrorists split form The IRA because they had no desire for peace.

The real problem is convincing these people to relinguish terror for peace. Trying to force them, even through international troops, will not work. It'll just give them new targets for their hatred. No, what needs to occur is a compromise where both parties accept LESS than they want with both parties having the ideal of eventually gaining all they want. The problem is trust. How do you get two sides who hate each other so much to trust each other. Here is where you can bring in the international community to build trust.

Trust however must also come with patience. When things take a step backwards patience is required to bring it forward again. Her is where peace accords often fall. One side breaks a treaty, the other instantly retaliates. Treaty gone. As oppossed to the other side being patient and bearing political pressure for the first side to abide by the terms.

No, the bottom line is that people in Israel and Palestine have themselves to blame for most of their problems. The Israeli's care more for revenge than peace. They are happy to vote hard line politicians into power. The Palestinians are also to blame. They are happy to support Hamas in it's war against Israel and continue their rebellion at all costs. They are the ones suffering the most though and their hatred stops them forcing Hamas and others to the peace table. Without the will of the people 'freedom fighter' type groups cannot survive.

on Oct 02, 2003
This is the same group that fondly looks back on when the Israelies departed Jordan because of Hamas' tactics. I don't like the idea but usually the only way that works with groups like that is an extreame responce. Look at what constant negotiations got us with Hitler, and Napolean. They were taken as signs of weakness to be exploited. Until Hamas really wants to talk peace.

I find the Israelie wall to be interesting. Since they can't get the Palastinians to help them decide where the border should be they will decide on their own. I don't think it will do much to soothe the hatered, it might force a peace for awhile.

Another intersting move has been the Bush administration. IMO The real reason for the war in Iraq was to remove one of the major backers of Hamas. I would not be surprised to hear that intense pressure has been put on Saudi Arabia to withdraw support. There has been a couple of dust storms over reports that hinted at Saudi Arabia's involvment with El Queda and Hamas. I think there was to be a phase two of the war on terrorism by threatening the Saudi's and cleaning out Pakastan. I also think that plan has been put on hold as it seems that the military already has more then it can chew. Without financial support from the rest of the arab world Hamas and the Palastinians would be forced to the peace table.

Something else to consider is that as long as they have a war to fight the leaders have an excuse to do as they wish. Look to our own country to see how we were willing to give the goverment extra powers in the name of national defense. Or our willingness to invade Iraq and Afganistan. While I do think that the invasions do serve to make the world a safer place I don't think that Bush would be as popular without them.