World leaders should wait to see what Hamas will do, now that it has won the Palestinian elections, a local terrorism expert said Thursday.
"The United States, Israel and the Europeans all regard Hamas as a terrorist organization, said Donald R. Hamilton, executive director of the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. "What will likely happen, and probably what should happen, is everyone should just stop, take a deep breath and see what they do.
"If Hamas continues to sponsor terrorist acts, to endorse them, then there is virtually no prospect of continuing along the already smudged and wrinkled road map to peace in the Middle East.
Hamas shocked the world with its victory over the governing Fatah faction in Wednesday's elections.
"This is a stunning course of events, Rep. John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, said in a written statement Thursday. "Yesterday, the Fatah party was leading in the polls, and today, there is a terrorist organization in power.
Sullivan said he will oppose sending taxpayer money to the Palestinians who received about $275 million in U.S. aid last year if Hamas does not change its stance advocating the destruction of Israel.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, a strong supporter of Israel, said he refers to Hamas as "the Salvation Army with loaded guns, because it has done "some good things, even as a terrorist group.
For now, he said, the new government is in its infancy and the United States has gone "so far out on a limb to urge democratic elections there that it can't simply dismiss the results.
"I would prefer that they not have won, but I don't think it's the end of the world, Inhofe said.
Rep. Dan Boren, D Muskogee, said, "The Hamas are responsible for countless suicide bombings and attacks on innocent victims. They are not a political party, they are a terrorist organization.
"I'm concerned about what their control will do to the peace process, especially in light of what is happening in Iran.
Hamilton, who served part of his diplomatic career in the Middle East, said the election results don't necessarily show blanket Palestinian approval of Hamas.
"Everything I hear suggests that Fatah had become totally mired in a sea of personalism and corruption, he said, "and the outcome of this election might have had more to do with ... throwing the rascals out, rather than policy toward Israel.
In either case, this is not the first time Palestinian leadership has sparked controversy, Hamilton said.
"Early on, Yasser Arafat was persona non grata, he said. "Fatah was clearly linked to the Munich (Olympics) massacre and several other terrorist events. It was the policy of the U.S. not to recognize the PLO. ... Israel's policy was essentially the same.
Arafat gradually distanced himself from terrorism but never "walked away from promoting violence against Israel, Hamilton said.
Don't expect Hamas to renounce violence against Israel, Hamilton said at least not at first and not publicly. So what will happen?
"The first move is up to Hamas, he said.Archive ID: 2941895