Wednesday, January 28, 2009

why the Israelis should have talked to Hamas in 2006, and why they should talk to them now

Ahmed Yousef, advisor to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, says that Hamas wants to talk.

The United States and its allies in the so-called quartet — the European Union, Russia and the United Nations — have demanded of Hamas that it agree to three conditions: respect agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, renounce violence and recognize Israel.

Mr. Yousef said the first two could well be fulfilled through an extended cease-fire that Hamas hoped to negotiate with Israel via Egypt. He said Hamas was not prepared to recognize Israel but hoped that with two of the three demands met, attitudes toward Hamas might shift.

The demands that the Quartet have placed on Hamas are all things that you would get in the course of negotiations. To demand them up front is to kill any prospect of negotiated peace. And Hamas isn't going away. Fatah is weaker than ever. No peace plan without Hamas can succeed. So to demand that Hamas agree to the above-mentioned preconditions is to say that you don't want peace at all. Especially since the senior-most Hamas official not in hiding has just said that they're willing to put acquiescence to all those demands on the table.


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