Should We Fund Hamas?
Author: Samuel Metz
Should the US provide funds
to the new Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority?
There are no good answers.
The PA legislature is
controlled by a party committed to a single Islamic state
in historic Palestine. Hamas appointed a virulent militant
as Minister of the Interior. Party leaders praised the
recent suicide attack in Israel. Yet Hamas has observed a
hudna, a truce against Israel for nearly a year.
On the other hand, the
Presidency of the PA is occupied by the most rational,
pragmatic leader the Palestinians have ever enjoyed,
Mahmoud Abbas. He has demanded an end to violence against
Israel for the simple reason that it has done nothing good
for the Palestinians. He wants desperately to negotiate
directly with the Israeli government for a permanent two
state solution. Yet member of his own coalition, the
Palestinian Liberation Organization, and his own party,
Fatah, have committed all the terrorist attacks within
Israel in the past year.
One side talks like
terrorists and remains peaceful. The other side talks like
respectable peace-makers and cravenly attacks unarmed
civilians. Some choice.
Perhaps we should fund the
PA. We might achieve several goals. We might prevent a
further deterioration of the Palestinian standard of
living and reverse the increasing anti-Israel, anti-US,
and anti-Western sentiment among a population that sees
its health, its jobs, its education, and its future slip
away with each passing unfunded week.
By funding the PA, we might
reveal that Hamas is no better able to provide services to
the Palestinians than the PLO was. Hamas might wrestle
unsuccessfully with the same endemic corruption that
crippled Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinians might then vote
out Hamas in the next election, and perhaps even turn to
some third party, of which there are many in Palestinian
Perhaps we should not fund
the PA. Hamas leaders provide ample reason to believe that
at any moment, Hamas may call off the hudna and divert all
PA funds into a vicious terrorist campaign against Israel.
There may never be another election conducted by the PA if
Hamas fully implements its plan for an Islamic theocracy.
We may simply produce another militant despotic government
committed to the destruction of the Israeli people.
A complicating issue is that
terrorists against Israel do not depend upon PA funding.
Some official PA money is siphoned off to militants.
However, anti-Israeli terrorists in Palestine have never
lacked for funds as most of it is provided by outside
governments and organizations. (Of note, a substantial
amount of terrorist funding derives from American dollars
spent to import Middle Eastern oil. But we knew that
What will we absolutely
achieve if we refuse to fund the Hamas-dominated PA? We
certainly will increase the daily suffering of the
Palestinian people. We will certainly increase anti-Israel
and anti-American sentiment pari passu with that
suffering. We will certainly provide Hamas with a credible
excuse for all its future failures to govern and improve
the lot of the Palestinian people. And the remainder of
the Arab nations will certainly note that we rejected the
results of one of the few democratically conducted
elections ever held in the Middle East.
What do we risk if we fund
the Hamas-dominated PA? We may possibly end up financing
an organization that turns that money into terrorism, but
that is not certain. We may possibly enable the Hamas
government to function so efficiently that Palestinian
support for the party grows, but that is not certain. We
may possibly enable the Hamas party to extend its power to
the point that Palestinians elections are never held
again, but that is not certain.
Contrasting the certain
destruction that withholding funds will cause with the
possible but uncertain catastrophe that providing funds
will cause, the least dangerous route would appear to
Such a program might lead to
Hamas-sponsored terrorism, in which case Hamas loses all
international credibility. And we cease all funds. Hamas
may use the funds to consolidate power and establish a
theocracy. Again international credibility is lost, as
well as the support of the Palestinian people.
It is also conceivable that
Hamas may use the funds as intended, to provide for the
Palestinian people. It is possible that Hamas may want to
retain this funding and consider (only consider, mind you)
modifying its public stance. Even with continued virulent
rhetoric, Hamas may enjoy being a fully funded government
to the point that its behind the scenes actions might
promote economic cooperation with the US rather than
We have much to lose whether
we fund Hamas or not. We increase the chances of gaining
something by funding them.