IN the long view of history, the Western world’s response to terrorism will be seen as a paradox of criminalising the effects while cosseting the cause.
Only a few weeks prior to the murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo artists in Paris, the European Parliament uncritically acknowledged the terrorist group Hamas as a standing government in its motion to recognise Palestinian statehood.
Australia and the US were the only two members of the UN Security Council to vote against recognition of Palestinian statehood in December. The decision was criticised by acting Labor leader Tony Burke and foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek...
... unqualified recognition of Palestinian statehood presents a significant problem to the free world.
Palestine is governed by a unity alliance between the Palestinian Authority and the terrorist organisation Hamas. To recognise Palestine under the unity alliance government is to afford Hamas a dangerous degree of political legitimacy.
Despite its listing as a terrorist organisation, Hamas has managed to escape broad censure in the recent campaign for Palestinian statehood. Instead, it markets itself as a charitable organisation, giving aid to needy Gazans displaced by Israeli aggression on the one side and Palestinian Authority corruption on the other. Like most terrorist organisations, however, its regime necessitates perpetual war against a permanent enemy.
After establishing government in Gaza, Hamas’s popularity waned, but it was restored by last year’s Gaza war. The Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research found that following the war, support for Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh rose from 41 to 55 per cent while support for the comparatively moderate Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas fell from 53 to 38 per cent.
Hamas may have lost the military battle with Israel, but it’s winning the propaganda war for Palestinian votes and Western hearts.
Western support for Palestinian statehood followed the Gaza conflict in which more than 2000 people were killed, mostly Gazans. Despite the fact that the war was provoked by Hamas murdering Israeli teenagers and the group bombarded Israel throughout the conflict, international criticism was directed primarily at the Israeli response, which was considered disproportionate.
Hamas used the Gaza conflict to market itself as a permanent victim of Israel for which the only reasonable response was uncritical sympathy. Like Islamic State, Hamas has learned the power of claiming victim status abroad while it practises terrorism at home.
The similarities between Islamic State and Hamas do not end in their shared talent for propaganda. Like Islamic State, Hamas has proclaimed its intention to establish an Islamist caliphate by jihadist revolution. In 2013, Hamas’s “interior minister” in Gaza, Fathi Hamad, declared: “We shall be coming with a third intifada, an armed revolution, a jihadi revolution” as a “prelude to the establishment of the future Islamic caliphate”.
Soon after coming to power in Gaza, Hamas introduced strict Sharia law, consistent with the principles of its founding organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood. Its covenant declares: “Any procedure in contradiction to Islamic Sharia, where Palestine is concerned, is null and void.” The statement precludes the possibility of a viable peace settlement between Hamas-controlled territory in Palestine and any secular or diverse-faith state, including Israel. Writing for a Hudson Institute journal, researchers Rashad Ali and Hannah Stuart note that the Hamas covenant bears a strong similarity to the official ideology of al-Qa’ida.
Hamas’s commitment to terrorism is evident not only in its founding charter, declarations of jihad and commitment to an Islamist caliphate, but its system of “revolutionary” tribunals, which authorise extrajudicial executions of political dissidents. Last year it executed 18 Gazans, claiming their relations with Israelis constituted treason.
The recognition of Hamas as a legitimate government is implicit in unqualified endorsements of Palestinian statehood. Such recognition sets a dangerous precedent in international relations, which other terrorist groups could use to claim legitimacy in the future.
Despite the apparent threat, the European Parliament enjoined greater Europe to recognise Palestine in December. A brisk coda qualifying the peaceful intent and non-binding nature of the motion assuaged parliamentary centrists, apparently unaware that if made binding the resolution may constitute an accord between greater Europe and Islamist terrorism.
The EU’s in-principle recognition of Palestine as a nation-state was prepared by socialists and includes explicit recognition of Hamas’s governance of Gaza. Hours before the parliament’s decision, the substantive problem of endorsing a terrorist organisation as a ruling entity was transformed into a game of semantics when the EU General Court annulled the decision to list Hamas as a proscribed terrorist group, citing lack of official evidence on the group. While the court may reinstate the terrorist designation, the reprieve enabled parliamentary accession to the Palestinian motion without technical impediment.
As in the EU, socialists have spurred most western European motions to recognise Palestine. Late last year, Sweden’s Social Democrat-Green coalition made it the first major European state to recognise Palestine in a binding motion. France, Britain, Ireland and Spain have passed non-binding resolutions.
One has to peel away layers of spin to expose the fundamental paradox at the core of these resolutions to recognise Palestine. In a statement by Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, the Swedish government claimed that the unity alliance between the PA and Hamas enhanced the “capacity for internal cohesion” in Palestine towards a peaceful two-state solution.
It remains unclear how the Left-Greens arrived at the absurd conclusion that sharing government with a terrorist organisation presages political cohesion and peace.
Consistent with the red-green alliance driving recognition of Palestine in Europe, Australian Greens leader Christine Milne has declared intent to move a motion on Palestine when parliament resumes next month....