Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Shifting Attitudes towards Hamas

Ali Abunimah writing for the Palestine Center:
Since Hamas won the legislative elections in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in January 2006, the United States has attempted to isolate the Islamist resistance movement in Gaza while propping up the leadership of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his defeated Fatah faction in Ramallah in the hope of reversing the election result and restoring Fatah to power. This fit the U.S. strategy of fostering so-called “moderate” regimes in the region, allied with the United States and dependent on it to a greater or less extent, and confronting indigenous forces such as Hamas in Palestine and Hizballah in Lebanon, which the United States portrays as being mere extensions of regional rival Iran.

This strategy has backfired. In Palestine, Hamas withstood an extraordinary military, economic and political campaign waged against it by Israel with the encouragement of the United States. After its breach of the border wall with Egypt, allowing hundreds of thousands of desperate Palestinians to break the blockade on Gaza, Hamas is arguably more popular than ever. U.S.-sponsored peace negotiations between Israel and Abbas’ U.S.-recognized Palestinian Authority have gone nowhere. There is a growing realization that the approach to Hamas must change. This brief assesses movement towards engagement with the group among various key actors.

Read the entire brief here >