Monday, April 21, 2008

Hamas and a Peace Deal

Jimmy Carter - a man for whom I have enormous respect, whatever some of his detractors say - has reported that the leadership of Hamas has told him that they would be open to a peace deal with Israel if it were approved by Palestinian citizens in a referendum, even if the deal contained some provisions with which Hamas disagreed. I must admit that I've been back and forth about whether or not Israel and the international community should bring Hamas into peace negotiations. I very much understand that Israel doesn't want to negotiate with a group that continues to deny its right to exist and thereby put that issue "back on the table" so to speak, but I think it's time to face up to the strategic reality that Israeli sanctions haven't brought about the collapse of the Hamas government in Gaza, and that as long as Hamas controls such a large portion of the Palestinian populace, no agreement will be possible without its assent. The Hamas leadership's statements to Carter might be sincere or they might be tactical, but for hard-nosed strategic reasons I think it's time to give them the benefit of the doubt and bring Hamas to the table in some capacity, if only because there aren't many other viable options.

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