Thursday, June 11, 2009

Washington Must Talk With Hamas

Carter calls on Palestinians to unite and on Washington to face the reality of Hamas in order to achieve a two-state solution between Palestinians and Israelis. But Hamas has a burglar in its house and cannot be expected to renounce the right to fight until the burglar is kicked out.

Speaking for what might be called the “realist faction” in the U.S., President Carter laid out the need to deal with Hamas:

"I don't believe there is any possibility to have peace between the Palestinians and Israel unless Hamas is involved directly in harmony with Fatah," Carter said after meeting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"My own preference is for the
United States government to find a way at a very [early] date to have direct discussions with the Hamas leadership," he added.

"The first step has to be reconciliation between the Palestinian leaders to have a stable foundation to negotiate effectively with the Israeli leaders," Carter said.

"I will be discussing with [Hamas] if they are willing to make the commitments for peaceful relations with
Israel in the future and accept the overall requirements for peace and accommodation," he added.

Carter seems to have gotten priorities straight: first, the Palestinians have to unite in order to deal with Israel. Second comes the issue of U.S. relations with Hamas. But even Carter still has not, at least publicly, faced up to the situation on the ground. When a burglar is in your house is no time to be lecturing a homeowner about practicing non-violence. Once the Israeli burglar has been removed from Gaza and required to start practicing non-violence itself, then and only then will be the time to ask Hamas to respond in kind.


The facts on Hamas' position regarding Israel, as pointed out by the Syrian foreign minister:

Now we have a new U.S. president with a different approach, so we hope there can be speedy progress.

He should realize, though, that Hamas has already taken two important steps: Khaled Meshaal announced his support for a Palestinian state with its border at the pre-1967 line—he did this at a press conference two years ago, and has restated that position many times since. He has also said that Hamas will accept a political solution to the conflict if the majority of Palestinians accept it. That means he accepts the political solution.

It would be a lot easier to figure out how to move forward if American officials would recognize the degree to which Hamas has already made the concessions Washington says it wants.

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