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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Hamas: A road map to peace?

Published: February 3, 2006
Section: Opinions

Last week, Hamas was announced as the new majority in the Palestinian legislature. Expectedly, politicians across the world were quick to denounce the landslide victory. EU lawmaker Elmar Brok would not rule out suspending aid to the Palestinian people, the Bush Administration cut all aid to Palestine, and even Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was quick to state that the victory casts a serious shadow over the prospects for peace. However, is it fair to judge the future of Palestinian-Israeli relations before Hamas even takes power?

Palestinians democratically elected Hamas because the people were tired of Fatahs corruption and its inability to act in the favor of the Palestinian people. Rather than campaigning on a terrorist platform, Hamas campaigned under the banner of cleaning up the Palestinian government and aiding the neglected people. Although Hamas has called for the destruction of Israel in the past, it is now a servant of the people, rather than a fringe terrorist group. According to NPR, a majority of Palestinians want a peace agreement with Israel, and Hamas has not shown that they will disobey the will of the people. Hamas had successfully carried out a year-long cease-fire in the past and hinted that the cease-fire will continue in the future after the election results came in. Moreover, newly-elected Hamas leaders have been saying in interviews that their priorities are restructuring the government and eradicating corruption and cronyism;

Israel is rarely mentioned.

However, the biggest prospect of peace comes from the fact that now Hamas must become more pragmatic if it truly wants to be a viable force in global politics. Although Hamas will likely never renounce its former violence, it could still make strides toward peace in the Middle-East. Any guerrilla operations that Hamas carries out from now on will be seen as state-action and could merit a declaration of war against Palestine. In effect, Palestines leading rebel group has been neutralized.

I do not claim to be able to predict the future and I accept the fact that Hamas could abandon peace in favor of continued grassroots violence. However, it is unfair of the worlds leaders to assume they know the future of Hamas and Palestine themselves. Cutting aid to the Palestinian people will only further radicalize and isolate an already alienated people. President Bush initially offered a fairly balanced opinion of the election results, but unfortunately slid into a polarized denunciation of Hamas. We can only hope that President Bush and other foreign leaders will not continue to act out of haste and derail any prospect of peace that could come from this election.