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Do not exclude Hamas from the vote
 On the surface of it, the resolution of the U.S. Congress and the statements by Javier Solana of the European Union warning that aid to the Palestinian Authority would be jeopardized if Hamas is included in the PA after next month’s legislative elections seem to be in tune with the West’s anti-terror policies. But the fact is that these demands are greater than any that the I
Friday, December 23,2005 00:00
by Daoud Kuttab International Herald Tribune

 On the surface of it, the resolution of the U.S. Congress and the statements by Javier Solana of the European Union warning that aid to the Palestinian Authority would be jeopardized if Hamas is included in the PA after next month’s legislative elections seem to be in tune with the West’s anti-terror policies.
 
But the fact is that these demands are greater than any that the Israeli government, the EU itself or the U.S. administrations have made.
 
It may sound logical that organizations that have been declared terrorist by the U.S. State Department should not get American taxpayers’ money. But the situation here is different.
 
For years, Palestinians and the international community have been encouraging Palestinian militants to seek the democratic way in their campaign to end the Israeli occupation. The veteran Israeli leader Shimon Peres has repeatedly called on Palestinians to use the ballot instead of the bullet.
 
Yet just as this argument seems to be heeded by Palestinians, the message from the U.S. Congress serves to push Palestinians back to the military track.
 
There is no doubt that nascent Palestinian democracy needs to find solutions to some of its internal contradictions.
 
The contention of Representative Kendrick Meek, Democrat of Florida, a co-sponsor of the resolution, has a logic to it: "A Palestinian government that includes an armed Hamas undermines the Palestinian Authority, threatens the future of the peace process and only emboldens terrorists."
 
But while this issue is important, Palestinian leaders find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place.
 
The failure of the international community, including the United States, to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to reach a just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is a key part of the discussion among Palestinians.
 
In line with the Bush administration’s push for democracy in the greater Middle East region, Washington has quietly agreed not to interfere with any of the Middle East elections. In Egypt, Lebanon and in Iraq, the United States has encouraged all to join the participatory electoral process.
 
Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers in Egypt, Lebanese Hezbollah members and Iraqi Sunni and Shiite militants participated in the elections. In Lebanon and Iraq, members of so-called terrorist organizations have or will soon participate in governments. Why should Hamas, which follows the same ideology as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, be treated differently?
 
When Israel’s prime minister, Ariel Sharon, visited the White House in the autumn, a tacit American-Israeli agreement was reached not to veto any participants in the upcoming elections. After that meeting, Israeli officials retracted earlier threats to obstruct the holding of the elections.
 
Palestinians are in dire need of financial support from the United States, from Arabs and from the international community. But as bad as the economic situation is, the need for Palestinians to preserve national unity is even more important. The participation of Islamic groups in the upcoming legislative elections is a major victory for the moderation of President Mahmoud Abbas.
 
Once Islamic supporters see that they can participate in the decision-making process, they will gradually give up on their unilateral actions against the Israelis.
 
Integrating Hamas and the other militant movements into the political mainstream will contribute to de-escalating the current cycle of violence and allow Palestinians to focus on rebuilding their lives in the recently liberated Gaza Strip and the yet-to-be liberated Jerusalem and West Bank.
 
At the same time, Palestinians must find a way to make sure that militant groups, whether they have Islamic or nationalist tendencies, should not be allowed to disturb the rule of law in the Palestinian areas.
 
As it did in Iraq, the international community - including the Bush administration and the European Union - should encourage all groups in the Palestinian lands to participate in the upcoming elections.
 
(Daoud Kuttab is director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al Quds University in Ramallah.)
 RAMALLAH, West Bank On the surface of it, the resolution of the U.S. Congress and the statements by Javier Solana of the European Union warning that aid to the Palestinian Authority would be jeopardized if Hamas is included in the PA after next month’s legislative elections seem to be in tune with the West’s anti-terror policies.
 
But the fact is that these demands are greater than any that the Israeli government, the EU itself or the U.S. administrations have made.
 
It may sound logical that organizations that have been declared terrorist by the U.S. State Department should not get American taxpayers’ money. But the situation here is different.
 
For years, Palestinians and the international community have been encouraging Palestinian militants to seek the democratic way in their campaign to end the Israeli occupation. The veteran Israeli leader Shimon Peres has repeatedly called on Palestinians to use the ballot instead of the bullet.
 
Yet just as this argument seems to be heeded by Palestinians, the message from the U.S. Congress serves to push Palestinians back to the military track.
 
There is no doubt that nascent Palestinian democracy needs to find solutions to some of its internal contradictions.
 
The contention of Representative Kendrick Meek, Democrat of Florida, a co-sponsor of the resolution, has a logic to it: "A Palestinian government that includes an armed Hamas undermines the Palestinian Authority, threatens the future of the peace process and only emboldens terrorists."
 
But while this issue is important, Palestinian leaders find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place.
 
The failure of the international community, including the United States, to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to reach a just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is a key part of the discussion among Palestinians.
 
In line with the Bush administration’s push for democracy in the greater Middle East region, Washington has quietly agreed not to interfere with any of the Middle East elections. In Egypt, Lebanon and in Iraq, the United States has encouraged all to join the participatory electoral process.
 
Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers in Egypt, Lebanese Hezbollah members and Iraqi Sunni and Shiite militants participated in the elections. In Lebanon and Iraq, members of so-called terrorist organizations have or will soon participate in governments. Why should Hamas, which follows the same ideology as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, be treated differently?
 
When Israel’s prime minister, Ariel Sharon, visited the White House in the autumn, a tacit American-Israeli agreement was reached not to veto any participants in the upcoming elections. After that meeting, Israeli officials retracted earlier threats to obstruct the holding of the elections.
 
Palestinians are in dire need of financial support from the United States, from Arabs and from the international community. But as bad as the economic situation is, the need for Palestinians to preserve national unity is even more important. The participation of Islamic groups in the upcoming legislative elections is a major victory for the moderation of President Mahmoud Abbas.
 
Once Islamic supporters see that they can participate in the decision-making process, they will gradually give up on their unilateral actions against the Israelis.
 
Integrating Hamas and the other militant movements into the political mainstream will contribute to de-escalating the current cycle of violence and allow Palestinians to focus on rebuilding their lives in the recently liberated Gaza Strip and the yet-to-be liberated Jerusalem and West Bank.
 
At the same time, Palestinians must find a way to make sure that militant groups, whether they have Islamic or nationalist tendencies, should not be allowed to disturb the rule of law in the Palestinian areas.
 
As it did in Iraq, the international community - including the Bush administration and the European Union - should encourage all groups in the Palestinian lands to participate in the upcoming elections.
 

But the fact is that these demands are greater than any that the Israeli government, the EU itself or the U.S. administrations have made.
 
It may sound logical that organizations that have been declared terrorist by the U.S. State Department should not get American taxpayers’ money. But the situation here is different.
 
For years, Palestinians and the international community have been encouraging Palestinian militants to seek the democratic way in their campaign to end the Israeli occupation. The veteran Israeli leader Shimon Peres has repeatedly called on Palestinians to use the ballot instead of the bullet.
 
Yet just as this argument seems to be heeded by Palestinians, the message from the U.S. Congress serves to push Palestinians back to the military track.
 
There is no doubt that nascent Palestinian democracy needs to find solutions to some of its internal contradictions.
 
The contention of Representative Kendrick Meek, Democrat of Florida, a co-sponsor of the resolution, has a logic to it: "A Palestinian government that includes an armed Hamas undermines the Palestinian Authority, threatens the future of the peace process and only emboldens terrorists."
 
But while this issue is important, Palestinian leaders find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place.
 
The failure of the international community, including the United States, to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to reach a just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is a key part of the discussion among Palestinians.
 
In line with the Bush administration’s push for democracy in the greater Middle East region, Washington has quietly agreed not to interfere with any of the Middle East elections. In Egypt, Lebanon and in Iraq, the United States has encouraged all to join the participatory electoral process.
 
Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers in Egypt, Lebanese Hezbollah members and Iraqi Sunni and Shiite militants participated in the elections. In Lebanon and Iraq, members of so-called terrorist organizations have or will soon participate in governments. Why should Hamas, which follows the same ideology as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, be treated differently?
 
When Israel’s prime minister, Ariel Sharon, visited the White House in the autumn, a tacit American-Israeli agreement was reached not to veto any participants in the upcoming elections. After that meeting, Israeli officials retracted earlier threats to obstruct the holding of the elections.
 
Palestinians are in dire need of financial support from the United States, from Arabs and from the international community. But as bad as the economic situation is, the need for Palestinians to preserve national unity is even more important. The participation of Islamic groups in the upcoming legislative elections is a major victory for the moderation of President Mahmoud Abbas.
 
Once Islamic supporters see that they can participate in the decision-making process, they will gradually give up on their unilateral actions against the Israelis.
 
Integrating Hamas and the other militant movements into the political mainstream will contribute to de-escalating the current cycle of violence and allow Palestinians to focus on rebuilding their lives in the recently liberated Gaza Strip and the yet-to-be liberated Jerusalem and West Bank.
 
At the same time, Palestinians must find a way to make sure that militant groups, whether they have Islamic or nationalist tendencies, should not be allowed to disturb the rule of law in the Palestinian areas.
 
As it did in Iraq, the international community - including the Bush administration and the European Union - should encourage all groups in the Palestinian lands to participate in the upcoming elections.
 
(Daoud Kuttab is director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al Quds University in Ramallah.)
 RAMALLAH, West Bank On the surface of it, the resolution of the U.S. Congress and the statements by Javier Solana of the European Union warning that aid to the Palestinian Authority would be jeopardized if Hamas is included in the PA after next month’s legislative elections seem to be in tune with the West’s anti-terror policies.
 
But the fact is that these demands are greater than any that the Israeli government, the EU itself or the U.S. administrations have made.
 
It may sound logical that organizations that have been declared terrorist by the U.S. State Department should not get American taxpayers’ money. But the situation here is different.
 
For years, Palestinians and the international community have been encouraging Palestinian militants to seek the democratic way in their campaign to end the Israeli occupation. The veteran Israeli leader Shimon Peres has repeatedly called on Palestinians to use the ballot instead of the bullet.
 
Yet just as this argument seems to be heeded by Palestinians, the message from the U.S. Congress serves to push Palestinians back to the military track.
 
There is no doubt that nascent Palestinian democracy needs to find solutions to some of its internal contradictions.
 
The contention of Representative Kendrick Meek, Democrat of Florida, a co-sponsor of the resolution, has a logic to it: "A Palestinian government that includes an armed Hamas undermines the Palestinian Authority, threatens the future of the peace process and only emboldens terrorists."
 
But while this issue is important, Palestinian leaders find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place.
 
The failure of the international community, including the United States, to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to reach a just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is a key part of the discussion among Palestinians.
 
In line with the Bush administration’s push for democracy in the greater Middle East region, Washington has quietly agreed not to interfere with any of the Middle East elections. In Egypt, Lebanon and in Iraq, the United States has encouraged all to join the participatory electoral process.
 
Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers in Egypt, Lebanese Hezbollah members and Iraqi Sunni and Shiite militants participated in the elections. In Lebanon and Iraq, members of so-called terrorist organizations have or will soon participate in governments. Why should Hamas, which follows the same ideology as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, be treated differently?
 
When Israel’s prime minister, Ariel Sharon, visited the White House in the autumn, a tacit American-Israeli agreement was reached not to veto any participants in the upcoming elections. After that meeting, Israeli officials retracted earlier threats to obstruct the holding of the elections.
 
Palestinians are in dire need of financial support from the United States, from Arabs and from the international community. But as bad as the economic situation is, the need for Palestinians to preserve national unity is even more important. The participation of Islamic groups in the upcoming legislative elections is a major victory for the moderation of President Mahmoud Abbas.
 
Once Islamic supporters see that they can participate in the decision-making process, they will gradually give up on their unilateral actions against the Israelis.
 
Integrating Hamas and the other militant movements into the political mainstream will contribute to de-escalating the current cycle of violence and allow Palestinians to focus on rebuilding their lives in the recently liberated Gaza Strip and the yet-to-be liberated Jerusalem and West Bank.
 
At the same time, Palestinians must find a way to make sure that militant groups, whether they have Islamic or nationalist tendencies, should not be allowed to disturb the rule of law in the Palestinian areas.
 
As it did in Iraq, the international community - including the Bush administration and the European Union - should encourage all groups in the Palestinian lands to participate in the upcoming elections.
 
(Daoud Kuttab is director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al Quds University in Ramallah.)
 
 


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