I have been pretty clear about the severe impediment that a divided Palestine represents for any peace talks with Israel. The continuous blasting of Hamas by Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah led PA coupled with the ‘West Bank first’ approach of the US and Israel has completely removed Hamas and the Palestinian people of Gaza from the peace negotiations. Any deal that is struck between Fatah and Israel could easily appease Hamas and the people of Gaza; however, by ignoring Hamas in the negotiations, Abbas is opening the door for Hamas to reject any peace.
I am far from the only one who is calling for the engagement of the Islamic group. US officials have called on Obama to open relations with Hamas and even the dangerously hawkish Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman has pushed for some relations. Of course there is the political maxim of ‘we don’t deal with terrorists’ and Hamas certainly has a past of terrorism. But as we have seen, the group was moderated immensely in the last few years and continuing the current policy of isolation is only undermining the fragile peace talks and essentially guaranteeing their failure.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recently had a panel discuss the peace process and the importance of Gaza to the successful implementation of any agreement. Panelist spoke about the current situation in Gaza, the West Bank first mentality and policy implications for Obama. What was the conclusion? Take a guess…
Here is a link to the video, but unfortunately I am having a tough time embedding it.