Further to the yesterday's debate on the Israeli Operation Cast Lead against Hamas, which I was adjudicating, I would like to put an important argument on the table.
Those who castigate Israel as an agressor usually commit the following fallacy. On one hand, they claim that you cannot punish the Gazans for the activities of Hamas for which they are simply not responsible. On the other hand, they say that Hamas is a democratically elected government which must be treated as a legitimate party in the negotiations process.
However, YOU CANNOT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. Either the people who have elected Hamas should be held responsible for their choice since they elected Hamas as their representatives, or Hamas is actually not a government and does not in fact represent the Gazans, regardless of the fact of its election.
I tend to favor the second view. For me, the mere fact of a single election won and the ability to control the territory by force does not make a terrorist gang a government.
To excercise sovereignty, such gang should cease terrorist activities and start actually governing, i.e. providing public goods to the population. And the historical experience does not support the view that a terrorist organization may be peacefully transormed into a functioning government. The examples of Hizbollah in Lebanon, LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil-Eelam) in Sri-lanka, FARC in Colombia, Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and yes, the VKP(b) in the USSR - suggest that terrorists will remain terrorists even under the veil of "government".