On Friday, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland announced that it was suddenly fine for foreign dignitaries to visit the terrorist Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. Why? Because now that Hamas was firing hundreds of rockets on Israel, those dignitaries could visit to try to push “de-escalation.” Sure, the Egyptian prime minister is showing up to – in the words of the Egyptian government – show solidarity with Hamas. But according to the State Department, that’s all well and good, because he’s actually there to promote peace.
Here’s the relevant exchange:
MS. NULAND: We appreciate the fact that [Egyptian] Prime Minister Kandil went personally to try to ameliorate the situation. And we’ll continue to work with them on the efforts that we can all take to try to de-escalate.
QUESTION: Have they coordinated the visit with Washington or with the Israelis?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think both we and the Israelis were aware that the Prime Minister would make this visit, if that’s what you’re asking, Michel.
QUESTION: Toria, I don’t understand. Two weeks ago, you said it would be a bad idea for Erdogan to go to Gaza. You were not particularly enthusiastic about the Emir of Qatar going to Gaza. And now all of a sudden, it’s a wonderful thing that the Egyptian Prime Minister went there?
MS. NULAND: Matt, we have a different situation, obviously.
MS. NULAND: We are in the process of trying to de-escalate a very, very dangerous situation between Gaza and Israel. So the purpose was completely different in this case, and can be helpful, we think.
QUESTION: It can be helpful because they’re talking to Hamas.
MS. NULAND: Because they’re talking to Hamas, they’re talking about the danger of this kind of situation.
QUESTION: So the way that Hamas gets a stamp of U.S. legitimacy in terms of being an interlocutor is to fire lots of rockets into Southern Israel, and then you’re okay with people going to talk to them?
MS. NULAND: We have a – we have an extremely dangerous and volatile situation. We have a dangerous situation inside Gaza, we have a dangerous situation inside Israel. It is not a matter of legitimating violence. This is a matter of supporting diplomacy to get this to end, which is a different thing than what the visits were intended to do before this.
For the State Department to suddenly end diplomatic isolation of Hamas thanks to aggressive attacks on Israeli civilians is disgusting. The whole purpose of diplomatic isolation is to discourage such attacks and connections – especially with Egypt, which has been funneling ordinance into the Gaza Strip for months. Now, though, the State Department is backing down from a confrontation with Egypt, pretending that Egypt is a moderating force.
The State Department, though, is simultaneously pretending that by allowing talks with Hamas, they aren’t negotiating with Hamas. Seriously. Here’s more of the exchange:
QUESTION: Okay. Through the mediation with your good friends the Qataris, the Egyptians, and the Turks, Hamas moderates tremendously and gives up on rockets and so on. Will that be, like, an opening for direct contact with Hamas, with the United States?
MS. NULAND: With our direct contact with Hamas?
QUESTION: Yes, ma’am.
MS. NULAND: You know what our conditions for contact with Hamas have been. They have not changed; they will not change in this circumstance. They need to recognize Israel’s right to exist. They need to renounce violence and take those other measures that we’ve always called for.
Unless, of course, they fire more rockets on Israel. In that case, anybody can visit them. That’s what gives them a seat at the table. What a set of perverse incentives.