A U.S. Central Command intelligence team has suggested that Hamas and Hizbullah terrorist forces be integrated into the Fatah and Lebanese armies, Mark Perry wrote in Foreign Policy.
Perry is a former advisor to Yasser Arafat and was the source of a recent Foreign Policy article charging that General David Petraeus had said that Israel's refusal to agree to the creation of the Palestinian Authority as a state endangers American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Petraeus denied the report.
The CENTCOM intelligence officers’ “Red Team” thinks that the two terrorist groups have to be accepted as a fact and that their grievances should be understood, Perry wrote. The suggestions, which are not a formal policy proposal, fly in the face of current American policy that outlaws both terrorist groups.
“The U.S. role of assistance to an integrated Lebanese defense force that includes Hizballah (sic); and the continued training of Palestinian security forces in a Palestinian entity that includes Hamas in its government, would be more effective than providing assistance to entities -- the government of Lebanon and Fatah -- that represent only a part of the Lebanese and Palestinian populace respectively,” according to the Red Team, Perry reported.
The intelligence officers cited Hamas and Hizbullah as being "pragmatic and opportunistic" and rejects the Israeli view that they cannot be changed by bringing them into the political realm. "Failing to recognize their separate grievances and objectives will result in continued failure in moderating their behavior,” according to the CENTCOM officers.
They wrote that each terror group has to be treated separately instead of lumping them together with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks.
The Red Team also rejects Israel’s claim that Hizbullah acts at the behest of Iran, whose Revolutionary Guard founded Hizbullah. Moreover, the intelligence officers blamed Israel for driving Hizbullah into closer ties with Iran by its retaliation in the Second Lebanon War, touched off when Hizbullah kidnapped and killed reserve soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
The report charges that Israel's partial embargo on Hamas-controlled Gaza keeps "the area on the verge of a perpetual humanitarian collapse" and "may be radicalizing more people, especially the young, increasing the number of potential recruits." The Red Team argues that lifting the embargo would be "the best hope for mainstreaming Hamas."
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said earlier this year that no humanitarian crisis exists in
The officers' political objectives are clearly stated. A return to a Fatah-Hamas unity government in the Palestinian Authority would gain "widespread international support and deprive the Israelis of any legitimate justification to continue settlement-building and delay statehood negotiations,” they wrote.