World needs to give Hamas a chance

Just last week, Israel cut off financial support to the Palestinian Authority now that Hamas will soon control the Palestinian parliament. This editorial board will repeat our stance that Hamas can bring necessary change to Palestinian society. The rest of the world needs to recognize this too.

On Sunday, The Washington Post reported Israel’s foreign minister said Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, was “no longer relevant” in a government dominated by Hamas. Israel decided to turn its back on the new Palestinian government before it even has a chance to function could be devastating to the Middle East peace process.

Granted, Israel’s animosity towards Hamas is warranted. After all, Hamas is a terrorist organization that calls for destruction of Israel. But as we have said in a past editorial, now that Hamas is representing mainstream Palestinian society, the party will have to moderate its militant platform and recognize Israel if it plans on getting any work done.

Hamas has already hinted at doing that. Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister-designate, told The Washington Post on Sunday Hamas would “consider a long-term truce with Israel if it withdrew to its 1967 borders, released Palestinian prisoners and accepted the return of Palestinian refugees.”

“If Israel declares that,” Haniya said, “It will give the Palestinian people a state and give them back all their rights. Then we are ready to recognize them.”

Although Haniya has denied making those statements claiming his Arabic interview was poorly translated, just the possibility of Hamas seeking peaceful measures is huge.

The world cannot turn its back on Hamas just yet. Remember, one of the reasons why Palestinian voters elected Hamas politicians was because of their promise to clean up corruption and create jobs.

Abbas and Hamas have to practically build Palestine’s infrastructure from scratch, and they’re going to need all the help they can get. James Wolfensohn, special Middle East envoy to a quartet represented by the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, said, “We may be facing a financial collapse of the P.A. (Palestinian Authority) within two weeks.”

According to The New York Times, the European Union responded to Wolfensohn’s warnings by agreeing to pledge $144 million in emergency funding. Still, much more money is needed to keep Palestine breathing.

Both Europe and the United States have said they do not want to send money to a government led by Hamas, but they will continue to give aid to the Palestinian people. But the Palestinian government runs public services like schools, hospitals, sewer systems and electricity networks. Humanitarian organizations that are already helping build these services cannot do this without beefed-up support from the world superpowers.

Building Palestine’s infrastructure will only improve our relationship with the Middle East. As controversial as this may sound, working with Hamas might bring peace and stability to a region that cynics around the world have never dreamed was possible.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.