Obama has given Ha­mas free rein

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - DOVID EFUNE The au­thor, based in New York, is the Edi­tor-in-Chief of the Al­ge­meiner and Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Ger­shon Ja­cob­son Foun­da­tion

HOURS AF­TER news broke that the three Is­raeli teenagers — in­clud­ing an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen — had been mur­dered, Ofir Aku­nis, Deputy Min­is­ter in the Of­fice of Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, told me that the slay­ings were a “di­rect re­sult” of the for­ma­tion of the Pales­tinian unity govern­ment — or “ter­ror govern­ment”, as he put it.

He also ad­mon­ished the US and other Western coun­tries for rush­ing to ac­cept and de facto en­dorse the deal be­tween Fatah and ter­ror group Ha­mas.

He im­plic­itly at­trib­uted to the US par­tial re­spon­si­bil­ity for Is­rael’s hellish ex­pe­ri­ences over the past days.

Ear­lier that day, in a re­mark­able ex­change, As­so­ci­ated Press re­porter Matt Lee con­fronted US State Depart­ment spokes­woman Jen Psaki re­gard­ing the in­crease in rocket at­tacks from Ha­mas-con­trolled Gaza, and the group’s al­leged in­volve­ment in the slay­ing of the teens.

“Is that some­thing that would make you re­think your po­si­tion as it re­lates to the Pales­tinian govern­ment?” Mr Lee asked. Ms Psaki in­sisted that the govern­ment was “mak­ing ev­ery ef­fort” to abide by US re­quire­ments for sup­port, in­clud­ing the re­nun­ci­a­tion of vi­o­lence.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has also ag­gres­sively de­fended US aid to the Pales­tinian Author­ity, which is un­der threat from mem­bers of Congress seek­ing to ap­ply a 2006 law that bans fund­ing for any Pales­tinian govern­ment that in­cludes mem­bers of a ter­ror­ist out­fit.

In fact, the Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­tu­ally worked be­hind the scenes to sug­gest terms for the new unity govern­ment that would not trig­ger the US ban. As such, it en­sured that no ac­tual ter­ror op­er­a­tive would oc­cupy a min­istry — only Ha­mas-backed pup­pet min­is­ters.

The US po­si­tion is a source of un­told frus­tra­tion for Is­rael.

“Ha­mas is get­ting stronger in Judea and Sa­maria. That’s what hap­pened,” Mr Aku­nis lamented.

For Is­rael, the se­man­tics are ir­rel­e­vant. What mat­ters is only the out­come: this was an open­ing for Ha­mas to seize more con­trol.

When Ha­mas was em­pow­ered in 2006, in part by Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Bush, who en­dorsed its run­ning in Pales­tinian elec­tions, the re­sult was its takeover of Gaza. Now Is­rael fears that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has en­abled the Is­lamist group to ful­fil its long­time am­bi­tion: to ex­tend its rule to the West Bank.

And it is pre­cisely the US ad­min­is­tra­tion’s typ­i­cal mis­read­ing of the sit­u­a­tion that will sti­fle its own ob­jec­tive of peace in the re­gion.

With the “Arab Spring” be­hind us, it should by now be ob­vi­ous that state depart­ment diplo­mats have about as much in­flu­ence on the ground in the Mid­dle East as tod­dlers at a tea party. It should there­fore come as no sur­prise when Ha­mas seizes on this op­por­tu­nity to ab­sorb what re­mains of the PA’s in­flu­ence over the Pales­tinian pop­u­lace and drive the fi­nal nail into the cof­fin known as

the “peace process”.

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Barack Obama

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