Israel’s Election

After Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election, JINSA wrote that relations with Israel were not a big part of the Palestinian decision-making process.

After Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election, JINSA wrote that relations with Israel were not a big part of the Palestinian decision-making process.

Neither Fatah nor Hamas was going to make a serious “peace agreement” with Israel; both Fatah and Hamas conduct terrorist operations and are planning to continue to do so; neither Fatah nor Hamas accepts the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East; and neither can be induced to do so by piecemeal Israeli concessions. The Palestinians knew that and voted for the party they wanted to deal with their domestic concerns.

For different reasons, or maybe the obverse reason, relations with the Palestinians do not seem to have been a big part of Israeli electoral decision-making. The Kadima (28 seats) platform was to unilaterally determine the future shape and composition of Israel. There were big gains for the “Russian” party (11 seats) and seven seats for the “Pensioners,” plus advances for Labor under the leadership of an unabashed redistributionist. Labor has announced its intention to form a “social bloc” with the Pensioners and Shas to negotiate with Kadima on economic issues. Nearly 40 percent of the electorate didn’t vote at all in a country that routinely sends nearly 80 percent to the polls. The right-of-center Russian party and left-of-center Labor both plan to join a Kadima government.

The polite version of events is that Israelis believe a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians is impossible for the foreseeable future. The less polite version is that Israel is tired of holding out a legitimate avenue for continuing talks with either Fatah or Hamas, both of which believe the creation of Israel was a mistake that needs to be rectified either by the political will of the international community or through bloodshed. (Fatah takes the first view; Hamas the second.) As long as Israel presents itself as a willing partner, there are those willing to push it forever-greater concessions.

We note that the Subcommittee on the Middle East at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has decided to invite a delegation from the Palestinian Legislative Council, which will include Hamas representatives. The meeting will take place next month in Strasbourg. The Subcommittee said the Palestinian elections were fair and free and made no objection to the goals of Hamas vis a vis Israel. The Council of Europe is not beholden to any individual European government’s objection to meeting with Hamas – oh, come to think of it, most of those have quietly faded away, amid continuing blather about how best to funnel ever more money to the Palestinians despite their choice of terrorists as leaders (the U.S. is a full participant in these discussions). You would think the Europeans might have at least some hesitation about Hamas because it is allied with the swamp of radical Islamists as much determined to do away with European democracy as with Israel. But maybe not.

It is hard to blame Israel for a sort of turtle response to the cowardice around it. It is almost impossible to expect that Israel – in the face of practical European and American acceptance of Hamas – remain committed to a future negotiated with its enemies who are helped by those who should be Israel’s friends. The only comfort we take is that elections in Israel are a regular feature of life in a democracy – and that if life changes appreciably, Israelis will take another look at their leadership.