Obama has given Hamas free rein

By Dovid Efune, July 3, 2014
Barack Obama

Barack Obama

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 long-time 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".

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

Last updated: 4:45pm, July 3 2014