Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Israel looks to drive out Hamas.

Let's begin by remembering that the Palestinians chose Hamas as their democratic representatives at the last election. That Israel and the US and Europe refused to accept that decision and that Israel - with the backing of the Bush administration - then started arming Fatah in the hope of encouraging civil war. Hamas then pre-emptively struck Fatah, which is how we arrive where we are now, with Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip. Indeed, as Vanity Fair set out in March of last year, the blame for how we arrived where we are now lies totally in the hands of the Bush administration.

Indeed, even David Wurmser, the avowed neoconservative who resigned shortly after the coup in Gaza, laid the blame at the door of Bush and called him out on his hypocrisy.

“There is a stunning disconnect between the president’s call for Middle East democracy and this policy,” he says. “It directly contradicts it.”
And now, having told us that they invaded Gaza to stop rockets from being fired into Israel, after initially telling us that they intended to crush Hamas, they have now resorted to their initial war aim and removing Hamas from the equation is back at the top of the agenda.

Israeli intelligence and military officials are increasingly pushing for the assault on Gaza to continue until it assures the eventual downfall of Hamas amid assertions that the 10 days of military bombardment have crippled the Islamist party's ability to govern.

As the onslaught progresses, officials are more confident of "changing the equation" in Gaza and are predicting the collapse of the Hamas administration.

There is, as Wurmser might put it, a "stunning disconnect" between the constant Israeli claim to have removed themselves from Gaza - with the dishonest implication that they are no longer that areas occupiers - and the zeal with which they seek to remove Hamas from the equation.

Livni's determination reflects a growing confidence in the upper echelons of the Israeli establishment that the assault will fatally damage the foundations of Hamas's control and, in time, drive it from power. Intelligence and military officials have told the cabinet that "not much" remains of the Hamas administration in Gaza and that its ability to take control again has been undermined by the destruction of a large part of the physical infrastructure of administration, including the parliament building and many government offices.

So now the destruction of so many government buildings is explained. It was not because they felt that weapons were held there or that terrorists were squatting inside, it is to make sure that the governing of the strip is an impossibility by the time they have finished.

Of course, just how far out of step the Israelis are with the Palestinians was revealed with this comment:

The intelligence services also told the cabinet that they believe the Israeli bombardment is turning Palestinian popular opinion against Hamas and that terms can be forced on the Islamist party that will further weaken its control.

I simply don't believe that a people under the kind of bombardment Israel have inflicted on Gaza will feel anything but the deepest hatred for their attackers, which will mean that they identify even stronger with Hamas.

Hamas leaders have been assassinated and driven underground before, and the organisation has generally emerged fortified and more radical. Israel has also pursued these tactics in the past and failed to curb Hamas's influence or the rocket attacks. But whether or not the Israeli military and intelligence leaderships' claims to the cabinet are overstated, they reflect a strengthening intent to bring down Hamas.

Livni told the cabinet that a diplomatic agreement for a ceasefire should weaken Hamas politically. "This is not a matter of an isolated operation and every arrangement should advance the interests of the state of Israel vis-à-vis Hamas. There is no intention here of creating a diplomatic agreement with Hamas. We need diplomatic agreements against Hamas, and any agreement that weakens it is positive in our eyes," she said.

Israel wants foreign powers to impose terms on Hamas that would in effect require it to submit to the authority of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Palestinian Authority, which was driven from the territory in bloody internal fighting two years ago.

And here we have the glorious swansong for Bush's stated policy of importing democracy to the Middle East. Israel would like the party that the Palestinians chose as their democratic representatives to "submit" to the same people whom the Palestinians rejected at the last election.

The failure of Bush's entire Middle East enterprise, the hypocrisy and lies behind his claims to want to export democracy, are revealed by Israel's casual dismissal - backed by the US and Europe - of the entire democratic process if it failed to come up with an answer that the west found acceptable.

Viva democracy.

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