"The Israelis warned the Americans that that unsupervised Arab democracy will bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power, not pro-Western liberals. But Washington refused to listen and insisted on holding the elections on schedule. The new reality requires both Washington and Jerusalem to re-evaluate the situation, before the Hamas effect hits Amman and Cairo. In any case, it will be hard to turn back democratic change and resume the comfortable relations with the old dictatorships.
"Israel will have to formulate a new foreign policy and strive for peace between nations, not merely with their rulers. And that will be much more complicated."
Putting aside the fact that the Americans and Israelis seem to believe they have right to "supervise" Arab democracy - Robert Fisk recently said that, "The Arab world, which is principally what we're talking about, would love some of this shiny beautiful democracy which we possess and enjoy. They would love some of it. They would like some freedom. But many of them would like freedom from us - from our armies, from our influence. And that's the problem, you see. What Arabs want is justice as much as democracy. They want freedom from us, in many cases. And they're not going to get that" - the rise of Hamas signals a radical shift in the Middle East conflict.
Although one Hamas official has already signalled that Islamic law would be a source for legislation in the occupied territories - Gideon Levy rightly says that a "secular, moderate and uncorrupt movement would have been preferable" - last week's election result certainly offers the Israelis and Americans a lesson: force will never work. The Israelis may have assassinated any number of Hamas "terrorists", and yet such moves only led to a stronger resistance movement.
Besides, Israel once funded and supported Hamas. Read this UPI report from 2002:
"Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.
"Israel ‘aided Hamas directly – the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization),’ said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.
"Israel's support for Hamas ‘was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,’ said a former senior CIA official."
The future path of the Middle East peace process is certainly in question, but to suggest, as many Western commentators seem to believe, that the election of Hamas has ruined any chances of peace, conveniently forgets the fact that the PLO and Israel were not moving in that direction for years.