Is it a Good Idea to Replace Hamas with Fatah?

The dramatic decline in support for Hamas among Palestinians is taken as a good sign by Israel’s government and the American administration. It is, indeed, a good sign, given the fact that the Hamas ideology, is not only violent, but also offers apocalyptic hopes in lieu of political plans But both the Israeli and the American policy makers are not happy for the right reasons. They’re hoping to block the move for a Fatah-Hamas national unity government, have the parliament dissolved, and then get a Fatah controlled government after new elections.

But this is a near sighted, and useless hope. Not because Fatah can’t win. It probably can. But rather because this will make Hamas popular again. The worst scenario for anyone who hopes for partition and Palestinian independence, so necessary for the well being of both Israelis and Palestinians, is going back to a situation in which Hamas will be able to dictate a radical uncompromising policy without paying a price. This it can do as an opposition and an underground. Terrorists have hijacked the agenda before, and they can do it again. As part of the government, under pressure to deliver – jobs, food, administration – Hamas may not have to change its declarations, but it would have to change its policy. Throwing it back outside government will increase chaos in the Palestinian territories, possibly to a full scale civil war, and would leave us all hostages to any lunatic with a gun. It is the best interest of all not to let Hamas off the hook, and force it to remain in a position of responsibility. It is far more dangerous when instead of being accountable, it can go back to making apocalyptic promises on which, as an opposition, it doesn’t have to deliver.

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