Friday, March 7, 2008
News that the Hamas organization that governs the Gaza Strip has claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack on Jewish students in Jerusalem should remove any reluctance on the part of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to kick the group out. The fact that Hamas was allowed to gain control over Gaza after the 2007 parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories was a stain on the West Bank governing authority and an impediment to reconciliation between Jews and Arabs in the region. Hamas' 2007 electoral success was not an irreversible problem — the Palestinian people had spoken. But Hamas' decision to take part in the democratic process carried the obvious responsibility to be part of the process, not to drive the Palestinian Authority out by force. Why the Authority has accepted this situation is not understandable, unless it reflects a lack of commitment to peace with Israel on the part of its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, or a total inability to function on anywhere near the level required to be an independent country. The Palestinian Authority expects sovereignty over the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem, and to sit at the United Nations with the real countries of the world? It should at a minimum be required to demonstrate control over its own territory, and a commitment to the principles of statehood.