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A Whole New Ballgame

from the January 31, 2006 eNews issue

Recent events have plunged the future of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process into turmoil. Last week the Palestinians held their long-awaited parliamentary elections, in which the terrorist group Hamas was handed a landslide victory. Hamas won 76 of 132 seats in parliament. Fatah, which was founded by the late Yasser Arafat and has controlled Palestinian politics for the last four decades, won only 43 seats. The remaining 13 seats went to several smaller political parties and independent candidates.

Hamas now controls the Palestinian government - and they have already vowed to make sweeping changes. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and his cabinet resigned their posts and they will be replaced by members of Hamas. Mahmoud Abbas is still the Palestinian President, but it is possible - if not likely - that he may choose to resign his position if Hamas does not cooperate with the international community. Even before the election Abbas was a weak and ineffective leader, but the Hamas victory has reduced him to little more than a figurehead.

Hamas is believed to have killed more than 500 people in 350 separate terrorist attacks since 1993. Hamas, which in Arabic means zeal, has also carried out countless mortar and rocket attacks on Israel from within the Palestinian territories. In the past Hamas has rejected all compromise with Israel and has opposed the Palestinian Authoritys participation in the peace process. Its preliminary goal is to carry out an armed struggle to defeat Israel and establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, but its ultimate goal is the destruction of Israel.

Going into the elections, Hamas advocated cutting all ties with Israel and increasing its cooperation with Arab nations. Hamas promised to strengthen the territories from within and to make its economy independent from Israel. In addition to its militant activities Hamas runs a network of schools, clinics, and mosques which have helped it gain the support of the Palestinian people.

Optimists argue that Hamas' participation in mainstream Palestinian politics will spur the group to moderate its radical goals and terrorist tactics. However such a scenario is highly unlikely. When speaking with Western journalists Hamas may indeed use a more moderate tone, but their agenda has not changed. Following are excerpts from an interview with Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar, which aired last week on Al-Manar TV:

"We will not give up the resistance against the Israeli enemy, which ultimately led to its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank...Palestine means Palestine in its entirety - from the (Mediterranean) Sea to the (Jordan) River, from Ras Al-Naqura to Rafah. We cannot give up a single inch of it. Therefore, we will not recognize the Israeli enemy's right to a single inch...we can found a state on any piece of the land, and this will not mean we give up on any other part of the land...we must not pass on to our sons a disgraceful defeat by recognizing the Israeli enemy's right to exist, where it has no such right."

Hamas has already begun its campaign to win acceptance and legitimacy among the international community. Hamas views the establishment of a Palestinian state in the territories as a means to an end - a foothold in the region bringing them one step closer to Israel's ultimate defeat. However the US and the EU have threatened to cut off diplomatic relations and put a halt to the Palestinian Authority's substantial foreign aid if Hamas does not renounce violence. For now, the US has flatly rejected to acknowledge Hamas as a negotiating partner. Yet the overriding desire for peace and stability in the Middle East may, in time, tempt our allies to overlook a myriad of evils. In the name of peace, the US will once again face pressure to pull back from its support of Israel and to compromise with terrorists.

Many people today do not take the Word of God seriously. Some ignore it, many disbelieve or deny it, and others dilute its meaning with conjectures, allegories, and redefinitions. But God says what He means, and means what He says. God delights in making and keeping His promises. In light of all these things, it is important for us to remember the promise that God made to Abraham: I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee will all families of the earth be blessed.

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