Thursday, March 01, 2007

Appeasing Hamas?

Dents are appearing in the solidarity of the international Quartet of the US, UN, EU and Russia, to stand by the three conditions that it adopted for a PA Government to receive direct financial aid. Namely the PA Government must (i) recognise Israel's right to exist, (ii) stop terrorist violence and (iii) accept all previous PA agreements with Israel. The last condition is one that is expected of any newly installed Government in any country in the world to ensure international continuity and legitimacy.
The Mecca agreement, that was arrived at after significant fighting between Fatah and Hamas had killed at least 50 people, was supposed to overcome these conditions. The installation of a Unity Government for the PA, expected soon, that consists of both organizations, was supposed to enable the international community to re-establish financial support for the poor, suffering Palestinians. But, the agreement represents a victory for Hamas for --- surprise, surprise, under the agreement the new Unity Government will not adopt any of the three conditions!
Nevertheless the dents in the armor of the Quartet comprise two main streams, first the EU wants very much to continue its funding of the PA, that basically keeps it from going bankrupt. Billions of dollars have been squandered and stolen from this European largesse, but the donors, the tax payers of the European countries are so pro-Palestinian that they apparently don't mind having their hard earned money stolen and misused. Having the stream, nay river, of Euros dammed seems unnatural to the EU politicians. So when Benita Ferraro-Waldner, the EU Commissioner for External Relations, was visiting with PM Olmert yesterday she was all smiles, but still could hardly disguise her disdain for the very idea that money should not be given to the poor suffering Palestinians. Then she is visited Ramallah and conferred with Pres. Abbas to find out how the EU can find a way to keep paying the money to him. This is laughable since he has made an agreement with Hamas that makes him an accessory to their anti-Quartet policies. But, that makes no difference to the EU.
Meanwhile, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal is visiting Moscow and met with Russian FM Sergey Lavrov, who stated after the meeting that Mashaal will work towards accepting the conditions of the Quartet. But, very soon after that statement Mashaal gave his own press conference and let the cat out of the bag. Hamas, and the Unity Government it will dominate, will never recognize Israel's right to exist and will not accept the Quartet's conditions! So this made Lavrov look like a fool, and as a consequence Mashaal did not get his anticipated meeting with Pres. Putin.
But, these EU and Russian initiatives show how shallow is the commitment of half of the Quartet to maintain solidarity in the face of the so-called advance of the formation of the PA Unity Government. One suspects that one way or another they will manage to find a way to wriggle out of these conditions. So far, only the US has maintained the strict policy and who knows what tomorrow will bring.


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