Finland has assumed the EU Presidency and with it, the responsibilites for giving a voice to its foreign policy. The recent utterances of Finnish Foreign Minister, Erkki Tuomioja, concerning the kidnapping of an Israeli IDF soldier by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist factions, as well as the Israeli response to it, provides us with an unique window on what it will be like for the next six months. While the Finnish FM rightfully condemns the Palestinians for the abduction of an Israeli soldier, he manages to put paint Israel as the chief aggressor, by insinuating that:
“…….Tension in the area was increased intentionally at a time when a slight shift had taken place in negotiations between Fatah and Hamas, indicating that Hamas would be inclining to accept the terms concerning recognition of the state of Israel required by the European Union for its joint activity…….”
For Tuomioja, the Israeli response to one of its soldiers being kidnapped, was overblown in an attempt to derail or mitigate the approval of Hamas over the Palestinian Prisoner’s Document that supposedly recognizes the state of Israel. Nothing could be further from the truth. The document neither recognizes Israel nor demands an end to terrorism, instead it encourages violence against all Israelis in the disputed territories, (which includes Jews praying at the Western Wall) while calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. Even Hamas’ leaders themsleves have been on record denying that the acceptance of the Prisoner’s document is tantamount to recognizing the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. They have openly refused to ever accept the Jewish state under any circumstance.
This is something the Finnish Foreign Minister has, for whatever reason, refused to acknowledge. FM Erkki Tuomioja is in denial over Hamas’ intransigence, and has once again taken the position that both sides are “equally to blame”, but with Israel being even more so. What else can one expect from a man whom Efraim Karsh has observed as:
“ignoring altogether the Palestinian terror war launched shortly after the PA was offered an independent state in most of the West Bank and Gaza with its capital in Jerusalem, painting a distorted and surrealistic picture of the conflict.”
Finnish FM, Erkki Tuomioja, is a relic from a past era that still views the world of international politics, from a perspective of a 1960’s hippie. To Tuomioja, Israel represents nothing more than the last vestiges of European colonialism, and for that reason alone, he can never consider the obvious, that Zionism is a just cause. For more on Tuomioja’s recent blurbs, I include the following translation of his article from his website diary. KGS
Finnish Foreign Minister E.Tuomioja:
Steps backward once again in the Middle East
The attack on an Israeli military site and the abduction of an Israeli soldier by certain factions within Hamas are condemnable actions, but so are the countermeasures, in the nature of collective punishment against the entire population of Gaza, taken by Israel. In addition to the destruction of an electricity power plant, roads and homes, Israel has also imprisoned Palestinian members of parliament and ministers. Measures of this type are unacceptable, nor do they promote peace or the security of Israel in any way.
Tension in the area was increased intentionally at a time when a slight shift had taken place in negotiations between Fatah and Hamas, indicating that Hamas would be inclining to accept the terms concerning recognition of the state of Israel required by the European Union for its joint activity. The mutual understanding with Hamas, achieved on the basis of the so-called Prisoners’ Declaration, in itself doesn’t mean sufficient compliance with the terms of the EU, but the shift should be taken positively. Israel’s actions once again raise the question of whether everyone in Israel supports a return to the Peace Process or wishes to destroy its prerequisites.
It is also important that by means of deeds like the abduction of an Israeli soldier, radical elements opposed to the Peace Process on the Palestinian side, either, do not succeed in sabotaging steps towards progress that have been taken with much effort.
The Middle East will be one of the European Union’s most difficult challenges during the Finnish Presidency, too, and we cannot back away from it.
June 30, 2006
Here is a number of statements by Hamas leaders on the “Prisoners’ Document”:
The Deputy Chief of the Hamas Political Bureau in Damascus, Moussa Abu Marzouk, (in the Lebanese newspaper Al Nahar, June 28) responded to the question of whether, in agreeing to the “Prisoners’ Document”, Hamas implicitly recognized Israel by stating that “the document does not accept the 67′ borders, but only refers to concentrating resistance within the 67′ borders, and therefore the matter is very different than a recognition of Israel.”
Salah al-Bardaweel, a Hamas spokesman on the Legislative Council stated that “we expressed our agreement to a [Palestinian] State in territory occupied in 67′, but we did not say that we agree to two states.” (Reuters, June 27).
Waal al-Hasini, a Hamas member of the Legislative Council emphasized that “we will never recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel within the borders (reference to the territory within the pre-’67 ‘Green Line’). This does not mean that we do not recognize Israel as an existing fact. We recognize the existence of Israel, but not on our land. We will not give Israel a thing in return for withdrawal.” (Washington Times, June 28).
Mashir al-Masri, a member of the legislative council, issued remarks similar to al-Hasini, adding that the Hamas has agreed in the future to focus its attacks on the West Bank and Gaza, but not to limit their attacks to these areas.
Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zahari, stated that the document would enable the Hamas to maintain its “resistance agenda” against Israel. (The Times, The Independent, June 28).
How much more proof does Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja need, that Hamas DOES NOT INTEND TO RECOGNIZE ISRAEL? KGS
UPDATE: Ol’Scruffy demands diplomacy over military solution. If Tuomioja would have listened to Hannu Takkula’s advice of ostracizing the Hamas from all international political venues, perhaps we would see some form of moderation happening inside the Hamas. Truth be known, Tuomioja sees the Hamas as a legal poltical representative government, and as something “one can do business with. That is the problem with the Finnish Social Democrats in general, and with Tuomioja in specific. KGS