This past week, both houses of Congress passed resolutions expressing U.S. “support for the state of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization.” Among the Senate co-sponsors was Maine’s Susan Collins.

Sen. Collins and her colleagues surely know that the largely ineffectual rockets fired from Gaza are not “unprovoked.” Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestinian lands; measures to enforce that occupation and expand settlements; the siege of Gaza; and repeated attempts to assassinate Hamas leaders: All belie that Hamas actions are “unprovoked.”

Hamas has much to answer for. But Israel has, as during past such episodes, done most to escalate to where massive casualties are inevitable. On July 11, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Israel wants no part of an agreement ending its control over all of historic Palestine. Thus, having done little to facilitate it, he terminated U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process when confronted with a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement clearly necessary to achieving lasting peace.

Then Mr. Netanyahu blamed, with no proof, Hamas leadership for the crime, and used the search for three Israeli boys he already knew were dead to justify mass arrests, and a rampage through the West Bank by Israeli forces. His military also assassinated a Hamas operative whose function was to restrain rocketing by more extreme groups. The aim? Surely to disrupt Palestinian unity, and end the risk of a just peace.

Rather than endorse Israel’s behavior, Sen. Collins might facilitate a peace that will serve both Israeli and Palestinian interests. She might rethink demands on Hamas for unconditional surrender before it can be negotiated with. Working with Hamas within the political process seems preferable to more of the bloodletting we currently see.

(These views are mine, not those of Churches for Middle East Peace, for which I am New England coordinator.)

Ed McCarthy


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