HAMAS - AN OBSTACLE TO PEACE
In 2007, Hamas, a State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, forcibly seized control of Gaza. Hamas continues to refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist and has perpetrated terrorist attacks, launching countless rockets from Gaza into Israel.
Hamas calls for the elimination of Israel and Jews from Islamic holy lands. No Hamas leader has publicly expressed a willingness to disarm or to stop attacks on Israel and Israelis.
Israel, like every other country in the world, has a right to defend itself. With a sworn enemy on its border, Israel must protect her citizens against potential attacks every single day. Under the blockade, Israel directs ships to the port of Ashdod, where they are inspected for arms and other dangerous items before Israel allows off-loading and assists in the delivery of legitimate goods to Gaza.
We know that Israel's concerns about arms transfers to Gaza are legitimate because both weapons and raw materials are smuggled into Gaza through tunnels from the Sinai in Egypt. Thousands of rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza into Israel over the last decade.
Just last week, Israel has shown signs of compromise, announcing its intention to ease the blockade and allow more civilian goods and humanitarian aid to enter the Palestinian territory by land, including construction materials for civilian projects.
It is important to note that Hamas has made no such compromises and continues to maintain its vehement and violent stance against Israel's existence. Hamas also continues to endanger Gaza's civilian population by using hospitals, schools, mosques, and residential neighborhoods as command and operations centers or as weapons storage facilities.
While Hamas claims to be the popular representatives of the Palestinians in Gaza, their actions show that they hardly care for the plight of the average Gazan, as their rule deprives their own people of a transparent democracy, civil rights and freedom.
The best way to ameliorate that and to fix the broader current crisis and prevent future ones, of course, is Israeli-Palestinian peace and the creation of an independent Palestinian state that lives side-by-side with Israel, providing security and economic stability for the Palestinian and the Israeli people.
Today, it is Israel who continues to acknowledge the necessary framework for any peace agreement.
Israel has shown willingness for direct negotiations, but the Palestinians continue to insist on proximity talks. Israel is seeking to make peace with a partner whose parliament is controlled by Hamas, an organization still sworn to the destruction of Israel.
The only way to achieve peace is for Hamas to give up its militancy, forego terrorism and violence against innocent civilians, recognize Israel's right to exist and become a legitimate partner in Palestinian institutions. The more than one million Palestinians living in Gaza deserve that, the millions of Israelis who are subject to Hamas rockets and terror deserve that and frankly, the world deserves a stable, secure Middle East.
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