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Opinion: Columnists

Why does President Obama want to empower Hamas?

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Opinion,Columnists,Jed Babbin,Barack Obama,Israel,Mahmoud Abbas,Hamas,Palestinian Authority

Given President Obama's most recent action in the “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians, it's reasonable to ask if the president believes that Israel has the right to exist.

That's not a question to be posed casually. From the time it became a nation, Israel - the only democracy in the Middle East - has always been able to count on America to come to its defense. Until now.

The State Department has announced that it will not only work with but will also continue to fund the Palestinian “reconciliation government” sworn in last week. The “reconciliation” was between Fatah - the political party of Palestinian president Mahmood Abbas - and the Hamas terrorist group which has, as its primary raison d'etre, the destruction of Israel.

The Hamas charter declares, “The purpose of Hamas is to create an Islamic Palestinian state throughout Israel by eliminating the State of Israel through violent jihad.” If Hamas had changed its charter to renounce jihad and accept Israel's existence then and only then could Abbas' Palestinian Authority have reconciled with it without endorsing its goal of destroying Israel.

But Hamas never made any change to its charter, its beliefs or its dedication to the violent destruction of Israel. The only conclusion that can be reached is that Abbas and his group have accepted Hamas’ goals and methods and modified their own to suit them.

That point compels another conclusion: that the State Department's announced intent to accept the Hamas-Fatah government into the peace process - and to continue funding it - is that the president and Secretary of State John Kerry have also accepted the legitimacy of Hamas, its goal and its chosen method of reaching them. They have legitimized Hamas just as they have legitimized the Taliban by negotiating with it and releasing five of their top commanders.

Obama's disdain for Israel has been no secret. In March 2010, Obama treated Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the sort of rudeness presidents had previously reserved for America's enemies. As detailed in my new book, The BDS War Against Israel, Obama's anti-Israel attitude must have been formed when, as a college student, he studied under the late Edward Said, a Palestinian activist with whom Obama maintained a relationship for two decades.

Kerry's dislike for Israel has been equally clear. When Kerry's peace initiative foundered, he tried to place the blame on Israel. Kerry said at an April hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that his peace ploy failed because Israel didn't release prisoners on schedule and announced further housing construction on land claimed by the Palestinians. Kerry's anti-Israel credentials were burnished by his later claim that if the peace initiative failed, Israel risked becoming an apartheid state, one of the key contentions of the “BDS movement,” which seeks to delegitimize Israel and have it declared a pariah state like North Korea.

Every American president since Israel’s independence as a nation in 1948 has made clear that while peace in the Middle East was always America’s goal, Israel’s security was always to guaranteed by American diplomacy and military might. Obama’s and Kerry’s policy decisions boil down to the idea that Israel has no more right to exist than its mortal enemy, the terrorists of Hamas.

The State Department announcement means, simply, that Hamas is a legitimate political entity. But accepting one’s legitimacy necessarily denies it to the other.

Sometime within the next six months, the Palestinians are expected to hold an election to endorse the Hamas-Fatah government. Whether or not those elections are held, the United States should stand with Israel, declare the new government illegitimate and stop all funding to it.

If we do not, America will have committed itself to a “peace process” that has no purpose other than achieving the goals set out in the Hamas charter.

Jed Babbin served as a deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration and is a senior fellow of the London Center for Policy Research. He is the author of "The BDS War Against Israel," with Herbert London.
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Jed Babbin

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The Washington Examiner