Now that the Palestinian civil war long sought by Israel, the U.S. and the EU appears on the verge of breaking out, it may be timely to examine the justification put forward by Israel, the U.S. and the EU for their collective punishment of the Palestinian people in retaliation for their having made the "wrong" choice in last January's democratic election -- the refusal of Hamas to "recognize Israel" or to "recognize Israel's existence" or to "recognize Israel's right to exist".
These three verbal formulations have been used by media, politicians and even diplomats interchangeably, as though they mean the same thing. They do not.
"Recognizing Israel" or any other state is a formal legal/diplomatic act by a state with respect to another state. It is inappropriate -- indeed, nonsensical -- to talk about a political party or movement, even one in a sovereign state, extending diplomatic recognition to a state. To talk of Hamas "recognizing Israel" is simply sloppy, confusing and deceptive shorthand for the real demand being made.