If anyone is dreaming that the influence of Hamas, the Islamic terror regime in Gaza, can be reduced by flooding the Palestinian economy, once again, with aid and money, think again.
Pictures of Gaza destruction fail to show the luxury mansions, five-star hotels, fine restaurants, riding academies and glitzy shopping malls. It would spoil the image of those begging for international donors. It is not lack of money that is keeping so many Gazans in poverty. It is the corrupt leadership, on both sides of the Palestinian political divide.
The Palestinians, including those in the Gaza Strip, benefit from the free flow of aid that crosses into the Strip from Israel. Meanwhile, the border crossing from Egypt into Gaza remains closed. The Egyptians continue to suffer from Palestinian terrorism that is killing their security forces and terrorizing the Sinai.
A massive amount of funding is channeled into Palestinian coffers, but genuine humanitarian cases are left begging for what they can out of United Nations and other aid agencies. There is clearly an economic divide within Palestinian society.
Diplomats say that economic recovery will weaken the grip of Hamas, and improving the living conditions would isolate the Palestinian radicals and extremists. The facts prove differently.
A 2010 poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO) uncovered startling results.
The West Bank was perceived as developing strongly under the “pragmatic” leadership of Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister, Salim Fayad. Most politicians and leading journalists declared that the Fayad plan of Palestinian development showed new hope to the Palestinian people. Economically, yes. Politically, no. Abbas saw in the neutral technocrat a political rival as prosperity grew. So he fired him.
The PCPO survey found that support for Hamas grew in the West Bank, even as progress was being made.
We need to remind ourselves of the deep feelings and affiliations of the Palestinians when assessing the likely outcome of promoting their cause.
The last Palestinian parliamentary elections were held on January 25, 2006. This was supposed to be for a four year term. We are now in its eighth year, and counting. Despite a declared “unity” government between Fatah and Hamas factions, it is unlikely we will see fresh democratic Palestinian parliamentary elections for the foreseeable future. There is too much historic baggage, grievances and mistrust between them.
The common misconception of the 2006 elections was that Hamas usurped power in the Gaza Strip by imposing a bloody coup. While this is true, the fact remains that Hamas won the Palestinian elections, not Fatah.
According to the electoral list, Hamas took 44.45% of the vote, with Fatah lagging behind with 41.43%. Hamas party candidates received 41.73% of the vote to Fatah’s 36.9%. This left a seating divide in the Palestinian parliament with 74 seats for Hamas and only 45 seats for Fattah. It needs to be stressed that this covered all of the designated Palestinian territory in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
It is clear, with the publication of the PCPO poll and more recent municipal election results that, with all the international involvement and all the diplomatic and media praise for the Palestinian Authority as a “moderate” and “pragmatic” section of Palestinian society, the people remain solidly behind Hamas. Any future poll would confirm the majority support for Hamas on the West Bank, especially after their recent terror war against Israel and disturbances in Jerusalem.
This is bad news for the world. It is disastrous news for Israel.
The raw facts show that the huge amounts of support from the international community and the propaganda activities of BDS, Free Palestine groups has only strengthened, not weakened, the extremist Islamic regime of Hamas.
Those who would say that Israel has to make immediate concessions to the Palestinians in the cause of peace must be reminded that all their aid, funding, political support has had no effect in having Hamas drop the call for the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of Jews from their iniquitous Charter. Neither has it made them more pragmatic by one iota. On the contrary, their assistance has encouraged Hamas to stiffen the Islamization of the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Authority to be as rejectionist as they have always been.
In light of these harsh realities, Israel would be advised not to make any further unilateral gestures to the Palestinians. They will surely not be met by any reciprocal recognition. Withdrawals from territory would severely jeopardize Israel’s essential security. This is compounded by the very real prospect of a potential Hamas take-over of the West Bank.
An Israeli nightmare of having Hamas on the streets of Jerusalem can be seen by the breakout of recent violence, death and destruction by Hamas-supporting Arab mobs in Jerusalem. This would be child’s play if Hamas were to come to power in the West Bank.
Barry Shaw is the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’ www.israelnarrative.com He is also the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to The Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College, and a member of the Knesset Forum on legitimization.