Twenty years after Britain outlawed Hamas’s military wing, the home secretary, Priti Patel, has decided to proscribe the entire organization. Stephen Daisley applauds this decision, but observes that London does not yet seem to recognize the dangers of what Hamas represents:
It’s been a rough old week for Hamas. . . . One minute, you’re going about your business, trying to drive the Jews into the sea, and the next you’re being treated like you’re the bad guy.
Comprehensive proscription of Hamas is emblematic of Britain’s approach to Israel and the conflict. It took twenty years for ministers to realize how illogical it was to ban only the ones holding the guns. How long will it take before ministers grasp how illogical it is to pretend that Hamas’s Islamist extremism can be condemned without confronting the fact that, the last time they were given the chance to vote on the matter, the Palestinians chose Hamas?
Banning Hamas in its entirety will only render more ridiculous those ministerial statements about “urging the parties to work with mediators towards an immediate ceasefire” the next time Israel responds to rocket attacks on its territory. How would Britain have reacted if, during the 2017 London Bridge attack, Israel had released a statement urging the parties to reach an immediate ceasefire? Something else rendered ridiculous is the rote insistence that, while Hamas is a gang of thugs, the Palestinian Authority is a legitimate authority. This is an outfit that has been accused of inciting against Israelis and which pays stipends to the families of those who are imprisoned, killed, or injured carrying out attacks on Israel.
Yet Labor and Tory governments alike scold Israel to make peace with the Palestinian Authority, even as every Israeli offer of peace and statehood is rebuffed and proposed peace talks are rejected out of hand.