So, yeah. Not good.
Time says they’re not going to focus on Israel at first:
Dealing with Israel—in either sense of that term—is not a priority for Hamas right now, nor will it be for some time to come. Instead, the radical Islamist group that won a landslide victory in Wednesday’s Palestinian Legislative Council election, taking 76 seats to the 43 of the ruling Fatah party in the 132-seat parliament, will focus on its stated priority of “cleaning the Palestinian house.” What this means, concretely, is ridding the Palestinian Authority of rampant corruption, and establishing law and order on the chaotic streets of the West Bank and Gaza. Ironically, that means that a Hamas government, despite its opposition to previous peace efforts by the U.S. and Israel, may nonetheless end up carrying out precisely the reforms in the PA long demanded by the the U.S. and Israel—ensuring accountability and transparency in government, and reining in the militias.
I don’t really see how this was going to be avoided in the long run. Fatah was pretty pathetic, though not as hostile to Israel as Hamas. Eventually they were going to have to go and Hamas was positioned to replace them. Given that Hamas is a terrorist group, what do we do? Marc Lynch says we can’t turn our backs now. Mike says we can’t negotiate with terrorists.
I don’t see how we can’t support democracy here. We’ll figure out soon enough if Hamas will take peace seriously in their new leadership position. As much as we dislike it, I don’t see how we can’t accept them for now. There’s no chance for peace without it.
UPDATE: This is about right:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 — The Bush administration, reacting uneasily to Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian legislative elections, called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today to stay in office to steer a moderate course and warned Hamas that the West will not deal with it unless it disarms its militias, renounces terrorism and recognizes Israel.
But in a news conference, President Bush also struck a conciliatory note, saying that it was clear that Hamas’s performance was a triumph of democracy, among Palestinians in particular and Arabs in general, and a rebuke to “the old guard there.” It was striking that his tone was less one of confrontation than of inviting Hamas to change its ways while the world watches.