We're a little late in pointing this out, but Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh has a must read at the Hudson Institute's Web site on how American diplomacy is strengthening Hamas' hand in the Palestinian territories.
With the U.S. obsessing about Israeli settlements as a starting point for peace talks, Abu Toameh reports:
"Hamas is gradually turning the Gaza Strip into a Taliban-style Islamic entity that poses a threat not only to Israel, but also to the Americans, Europeans and moderate Arabs and Muslims."
He points to a series of incidents in which Palestinian women are being arrested and harassed for failing to wear a hijab, for being in public without an escort and for other alleged moral crimes. These episodes draw little, if any, interest from foreign media and Western governments.
Palestinian leaders are boycotting peace talks until winning a freeze on Israeli settlements. But that's a straw man, Abu Toameh argues, noting Palestinians negotiated on broader issues for without such a precondition. Hamas, he says, is taking full advantage of the global distraction, recounting a comment from a Palestinian journalist he knows:
"The Americans and Europeans are fighting against Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan while Hamas is building a new fundamentalist entity here. The settlements may be an obstacle to peace, but Hamastan will soon become a major threat to stability in the region."
Today comes word of how Hamas is buying more popular support for its intransigence.