Israel: No to Hamas in PA elections
Herb Keinon, THE JERUSALEM POST May. 3, 2005
Israel has launched a diplomatic campaign over the last few weeks against
Hamas's involvement in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections unless
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, in a meeting with visiting Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, raised the issue, saying that Hamas can't
claim to be a political party and run in the elections while at the same
time maintaining a military arm.
"This is bad for everyone," Shalom said.
This theme is one that Shalom first introduced two weeks again in Cairo,
when in talks with Egyptian leaders he said that Hamas should not be able to
follow the pattern set by Hizbullah. "We can't allow it to run in the
elections and retain an independent military capability," he said at the
This new campaign comes as Israeli, US and Palestinian Authority officials
have expressed concern over the last few weeks of what a strong Hamas
showing in the July Palestinian Legislative Council elections would do to
the diplomatic process.
It also comes amid some concern in Jerusalem that a strong Hamas showing
would lead to a move by some in the EU to take Hamas off its list of terror
organizations, and instead view it as a political party.
Israeli diplomatic officials have said there is concern that Hamas will
follow the Hizbullah model, and become very active in the political process
while at the same time continuing to engage in terror.
Israel has so far failed to get the EU to recognize Hizbullah as a terrorist
organization because of its intense involvement in the political process in
Lebanon, and there is concern in Jerusalem that a politically powerful Hamas
will strengthen some in Europe already calling for it to be taken off the
terror list because it is now a political party.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon alluded to this during a recent interview with
The Jerusalem Post, when he said, "I would not be surprised if Europe
started to say, 'Perhaps we don't have to consider Hamas to be a terrorist
organization because, after all, it participates in elections.'" He said
that this is something that could lead to a flow of money to Hamas as a
legitimate political organization.
"From our point of view," Sharon said, "Hamas is a dangerous terrorist
organization and Islamic Jihad is a dangerous terrorist organization."
At a press conference in Jerusalem Monday, US Senate Majority leaders Bill
Frist (R-Tennessee), asked if disarming Hamas should be a precondition to
Hamas competing in the elections, said that the "US supports Hamas
renouncing any aspect of terrorism, including the use of weapons."
Russian President Vladimir Putin, during his meetings here last week, told
President Moshe Katsav that the US push for democratization in the Middle
East could very well backfire and lead to the emergence of extreme Islamic
Sharon, during a meeting with Frist and Sen. Joseph Lieberman
(D-Connecticut), said that instead of disbanding terrorist organizations
such as Hamas, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was actually acting to strengthen
He said that Abbas is not willing to fight them and is similarly unwilling
to disband their infrastructure, adding that while Abbas is taking steps to
maintain the quiet, he is completely avoiding taking significant steps to
Shalom, meanwhile, is expected to echo similar sentiments when he meets
today in Mauritania with President Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya, Prime
Minister Sghair Ould Mbareck and Foreign Minister Muhammad Vall Ould Bellal.
Mauritania became the third Islamic state, after Egypt and Jordan, to
establish full diplomatic ties with Israel in 1999. Shimon Peres was the
first Israeli foreign minister to visit Mauritania when he did so in 2002.
Talks in Mauritania are expected to focus on the regional conflict, the
threat of Islamic terror, the Iranian nuclear threat and how to foster
Israel's ties with other Arab states. In addition, Shalom will visit a
cancer diagnostic and research center being built by Israel in Nouakchott,