June 19, 2006:
Hamas has offered to renew its ceasefire with Israel, but only if Israel stops its attacks on terrorists. Israel won't do that, because, while Hamas terrorists have respected the ceasefire, several other Palestinian terrorist groups have not. Hamas wants its ceasefire to protect all Palestinian terrorists, and Israel, as a democracy, cannot do that. One deadly terror attack inside Israel and the Israeli voters would be screaming for action.
Meanwhile, Fatah, while out of power, is not out of ideas. Fatah has convinced most of the Hamas leadership to go along with a deal where would say it believes Israel has a right to exist. But then, as Fatah has done for over a decade, Hamas could continue to preach to its core supporters the need to destroy Israel. Fatah has shown that if you deny the lie loudly and often enough in English, the Western aid donors will ignore what is being said in Arabic. Until recently, Hamas insisted on saying the same thing in English and Arabic. Fatah has convinced them that this is foolish and counterproductive. Lying works much better.
Western aid donors (mainly Europeans and North Americans) are working out details of delivering aid directly to Palestinians, without letting any of the aid money be controlled by Hamas. This will keep some, but not all, of the aid money from the terrorists. Hamas is already getting around this by sending officials to collect donations from Arab countries in cash, and then personally carrying millions of dollars in cash back to Gaza. All of that cash can be used for terrorist operations, while the foreign aid donors supply the money to keep Palestinians employed and alive.
The most effective weapon the U.S. in the aid area are its laws penalizing foreign banks that defy American rules against dealing with terrorist organizations, like Hamas. Offending banks would be barred from dealing with U.S. banks, which is a major disadvantage in the banking business. But since Hamas has set up its cash smuggling operation, the banking restrictions will have little effect. Israel is supposed to receive live video feeds of the Egyptian border crossings into Gaza, but has not acted on the cash smuggling as yet. Because of the continued weapons smuggling between Gaza and Egypt, there's no problem with just smuggling in the cash, along with the weapons. The smuggling is thriving as Hamas and Fatah continue to build up their militias. An M-16 rifle now goes for about $10,000 on the Gaza black market. That's more than double the price a few months ago.
The Palestinian violence, that began in late 2000, has so far killed 5,209 people, most of them Palestinians. The violence has wrecked the Palestinian economy, and further split the Palestinian people between radicals, who want to fight on until Israel is destroyed, and moderates, who want to make a deal. Opinion polls indicate that Hamas would lose control of the legislature if elections were held today. Hamas won the January elections because of their reputation for honest government. But by getting most foreign aid stopped, because of political stands, Hamas has failed to exploit its less corrupt style of government. The people are disappointed, and down on Hamas. The Hamas hardliners, who predominate in Hamas, don't much care. They just want to destroy Israel and establish a religious dictatorship in the region.