Don't Push Hamas to the Table

[Washington Post] Michael Young - There is a specter haunting diplomatic groupthink today in the U.S. that holds that where there is a problem, there must be American and international "engagement." A problem with Iran? Engage Iran. With Syria? Engage Syria. Blockage in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations? Well, let's try something different and talk to Hamas. But almost never does anyone think this through. If states engage Hamas today, then they can say goodbye to Fatah and to Mahmoud Abbas. Is that desirable? Negotiating with Hamas will also mean indirectly negotiating with Iran and Syria. Does the international community really want to bargain with Iran and Syria to resolve the Palestinian conflict? Do Damascus and Tehran have any aim other than to use Palestinians to advance their own agendas? Is that dependency where everyone wants to push the Palestinians? Also, what do those engaging Hamas get in exchange for doing so? After all, Hamas would be rewarded by recognition; but what would it be willing to give up? The obvious answer is that Hamas must at least recognize Israel's right to exist, in the same way that the PLO, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan did when the Madrid process began in 1991. To avoid imposing on Hamas the condition of recognition that it imposed on the PLO in the past seems absurd. The writer is opinion editor for Lebanon's Daily Star.

2008-04-03 01:00:00

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