Remember when Hamas used to pretend that it had a nonviolent "political wing" and a rogue "military wing" which were not related to each other? For years, it maintained a fiction (for the eager consumption of the West) that its leaders did not support terror explicitly.
As Hamas and Fatah lurch towards a "unity" government, the strategy of Hamas becomes clearer - to maintain its total rejection of Israel and its total embrace of terror, while using Fatah as a fig leaf to turn international pressure around, from Hamas to Israel.
The latest Hamas move seems to be its joining the PLO. This would put political pressure on Israel, especially by Europe, because Israel has already recognized the PLO as the sole, legitimate representatives of the Palestinian Arab people.
There is a simple calculus that Haniyeh and his thuggish company know all too well: The West really, really wants peace, and this desire is so great that the West will push hard for even the illusion of progress. And Hamas, ever practical, loves the illusion of progress as long as it does not have to change its entire raison dÂÃªtre, the destruction of Israel.
The illusion of progress plays well into terrorist hands, as empty gestures are counted as if they are on a par with real actions. And Israel is then pressured to do real actions - give tax money to terrorists, free terrorist prisoners, give land.
All of Israel's potential actions are substantial and not easily reversed, while all of the terrorist actions are wisps of vapor.
This hunger for perceived progress towards peace is why the Quartet, including the US, is now supporting the idea of a unity government for the Palestinian Arabs including Hamas. They are so enthralled with the vain hope that Abbas can actually convince Hamas to change its entire philosophy that they are willing to ignore the fact that Hamas has consistently said, in plain language, over and over again, that it will never lay down its arms and never recognize Israel.
Unfortunately, this mass hallucinatory worship at the altar of illusory progress includes Olmert, who is now happy to meet Abbas, a man quickly turning into Hamas' puppet. It also includes Bush, who calls Abbas a "man of peace".
The possibility for real peace is remote. The ever-optimistic Western mind, convinced of the basic goodness of every man, cannot reconcile its deep belief in peace with the clear facts on the ground, that the Islamists (and a great majority of Muslims at large) will never accept Israel. So rather than face up to the real issue, it replaces "peace" with "peace process" as if they are the same thing.
They are polar opposites. Peace would strengthen Israel as well as her neighbors, creating an environment where Jew and Arab would both benefit enormously. The "peace process," on the other hand, is the consistent weakening of Israel at the expense of her sworn enemies, willing to lie to achieve the ultimate goal of replacing Israel with yet another terror state.
Every passing month will continue to show the Western nations, led by Europe, eroding their position on Hamas and increasing their pressure on Israel in the pretense of the pursuit of "peace." Hamas knows this very well and can play the game knowing that a single ambiguous word from them can overpower months of terrorist rhetoric - when the audience is so hungry for anything approximating peace.
It is a game that Arafat was the master of, but Hamas is taking it to a whole new level, managing to play it without even the paper concessions of the PLO's terrorist founder. Within a short period of time, the EU will resume funding terror and pressuring Israel - which is the EU's natural state - without Hamas having to do anything substantial.
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