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Last week, the Center For American Progress released a report titled "Window Of Opportunity For A Two-State Solution: Policy Recommendations To The Obama Administration On The Israeli-Palestinian Front".  The authors of this paper believe that President Obama has 6-12 months to build support among people in Israel, Palestine, and the broader Arab world for support in the two-state solution.

From the Executive Summary,

The Obama administration needs to win over more Israelis to its strategy for the region and consolidate a Palestinian leadership able to negotiate an enduring agreement in order to achieve a two-state solution. To address this stalemate, the Obama administration needs to take four concrete steps in the coming months:

~ Plan for the possibility of Palestinian elections in the coming year.
~ Develop an integrated program to strengthen Palestinian institutions in a broad      range of sectors to lay the foundations for statehood.
~ Take immediate action to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
~ Conduct a pubc outreach and strategic communications effort in the Middle East outlining U.S. regional strategy, with increased attention to Israeli public opinion.

While this report is a sincere and professional attempt at discussing ways that President Obama can build upon his early actions in order to improve the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the authors reveal a major limitation to their paper within the Preface.

"This report is based on a series of briefings, meetings, and interviews conducted with a wide range of Palestinian and Israeli officials in June 2009, including on-the-record sessions with leaders such as Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, Kadima Party Leader and Former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Major General Yoav Gallant of the Southern Command of the Israel Defense Forces, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Al-Fayyad, and Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The authors also met with a number of officials in off-the-record sessions, including several ministers in the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government, leaders in the Israel Defense Forces, independent analysts, and journalists in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Israel during the last two weeks of June. The meetings also included sessions with U.S.,
British, and other international officials and experts on the Middle East. Some of these meetings were part of a broader delegation that one report coauthor (Katulis) took part in organized by the Israel America Academic Exchange, a program in partnership with the Milken Institute and the Yitzhak Rabin Center.

There is no testimony from any persons associated with Hamas.  While many people and governments believe that Hamas is a terrorist organization, it did win the majority of seats in the democratic 2006 Palestinian Parliamentary elections.  Also, as a result of confrontations with Fatah in 2007, Hamas is the ruling entity for the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.  Presently, there are a growing number of experts that understand Hamas' importance within the framework of attempts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At the end of March, a distinguished group of past U.S. government officials released "A Last Chance For A Two-State Israel-Palestine Agreement: A Bipartisan Statement On U.S. Middle East Peacemaking", for the U.S./Middle East Project.  Among its suggestions is the idea that the President needs to take a new position regarding Hamas.

3. A More Pragmatic Approach Toward Hamas and a Palestinian Unity Government:
A legitimate, unified and empowered Palestinian side to negotiate with Israel is of importance if any agreement is to be reached and implemented. Direct U.S. engagement with Hamas may not now be practical, but shutting out the movement and isolating Gaza has only made it stronger and Fatah weaker. Israel itself has acknowledged Hamas is simply too important and powerful to be ignored.

In brief, shift the U.S. objective from ousting Hamas to modifying its behavior, offer it inducements that will enable its more moderate elements to prevail, and cease discouraging third parties from engaging with Hamas in ways that might help clarify the movement’s views and test its behavior.

Finally, cease discouraging Palestinian national reconciliation and make clear that a government that agrees to a ceasefire with Israel, accepts President Mahmoud Abbas as the chief negotiator, and commits to abiding by the results of a national referendum on a future peace agreement would not be boycotted or sanctioned.

This past June, Professor Nathan Brown discussed the necessary inclusion of Hamas when he published his web commentary, "The Green Elephant In The Room: Dealing With The Hamas Party-State In Gaza", for the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace.


Introduction:

The Obama administration has thus learned from history. In the past, bold determination and frankness may indeed have avoided some of the dismal failures in U.S. diplomacy. But an excessive focus on history may only lead to repeating it: unless the administration devises a workable way to handle the fundamentally new reality of Hamas’s construction of a party-state in Gaza, it is difficult to see how the new president’s promise of support for Israeli–Palestinian peacemaking will be any less futile than his predecessors’.

Conclusion: A Way Forward?

The Obama administration is caught in a series of binds it has not yet acknowledged: its efforts will ultimately founder unless it finds a formula that deals with Hamas; the problems get harder rather than easier to solve by the day; and the most promising solution (a National Unity Government) is one that it has resisted precisely because it would likely force it to pursue Israeli–Palestinian peacemaking on a slower schedule and a less familiar set of circumstances than it would prefer.

The new leadership in Washington is refreshingly bold in its tactics but far more conventional in its strategies. Its new approach (especially on settlements) has already attracted attention in the region. But thus far its public policy toward Gaza remains unrealistic: demanding that Hamas change and treating the movement as if it does not exist until it does so. It is difficult to envision how the Obama administration’s initiatives can gain full traction until it develops more realistic ideas on Gaza.

On June 9th, Ghassan Khatib, coeditor of Bitterlemons and a former Palestinian Authority Minister of Planning, wrote "The Stick-And-Stick Approach Has Failed" that desribed the need for Hamas to be part of the political process in order to achieve a successful resolution.  He believes it is not just the strength and influence of Hamas that makes it so important to the negotiations, but its recent politically pragmatic actions.

Over the past years, Hamas has sent several signals to the parties of the political process that it is in fact interested in participating. The first such signal came from the movement's founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who accepted the idea of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders to live without hostility alongside Israel. He proposed the idea of a long-term "hudna" to describe this state of affairs.

Then there was the 2007 Saudi-sponsored Mecca Agreement between Fateh and Hamas. That agreement saw the main Palestinian factions form a unity government under Hamas with a political platform that explicitly accepted and respected international legality and the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions as well as the Arab initiative. It committed the unity government to a political process and a rejection of violence.

Probably the last in this line of signals was the June 25 speech by the head of Hamas' political bureau, Khalid Mishaal, who praised the Cairo speech of US President Barrack Obama, expressed a willingness to enter into a dialogue with the United States and reiterated Hamas' support for the idea of a two-state solution.

In that same edition of Bitterlemons, retired Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Brigadier General Shlomo Brom wrote "Try Including Hamas" in order to discuss his reasons why Hamas' inclusion is a necessity.

Hamas represents a significant segment of Palestinian society, which is basically conservative and religious. It is difficult to ascertain accurately how large this segment is. In the January 2006 elections, 44.45 percent voted for the Hamas list. That percentage was composed of hardcore supporters along with floating votes that change their voting patterns frequently. In the last PSR survey, Hamas was supported by 33 percent of those surveyed. It can be assumed that at least a third of the Palestinians generally support Hamas and its policies--a level of support that cannot be ignored.

This implies that, first, it is doubtful whether any Palestinian leader would be capable of concluding a permanent status agreement with Israel without Hamas. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, for example, could not conclude an agreement with Israeli PM Ehud Olmert last year because he was not capable of making the necessary concessions on sensitive issues, such as resolution of the refugee problem, knowing that a formidable political adversary would use his concessions against him. Concessions can be made only from a position of political strength.

Second, even if an agreement is concluded, Hamas can play the spoiler and prevent implementation. This argument became particularly valid after the Hamas military takeover of Gaza in 2007. Thus, no Israel-PLO agreement can be implemented in Gaza, and Hamas can use its control to initiate military escalation and prevent implementation even in the West Bank. There is also grave concern in Israel that any withdrawal from the West Bank would lead sooner or later to a Hamas takeover there, at which point the agreement would be worthless.

Third, with this level of support Hamas is not going to disappear soon. The current paradigm adopted by the government of Israel after the 2006 Hamas electoral victory, combining economic pressure on Gaza with support for the Abbas government in the West Bank, is failing. The level of support for Hamas has decreased only in a limited way; actually, support for Hamas increased again in the West Bank after the recent fighting in Gaza. Anyway, these fluctuations in political support for Hamas have no real effect on the robustness of its control over Gaza.

On June 15th, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter met with the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Israeli Knesset.  On June 16th, he gave the commencement address for Gazan Palestinian students at an UNRWA Human Rights Program graduation ceremony.  During both presentations, Mr. Carter discussed his political beliefs regarding Hamas based on his many conversations with its leadership in Syria, the West Bank, and Gaza.


June 15th Knesset Meeting

"And so I still believe that the best approach to future substantive peace talks, with Israel on one side and Palestinians on the other side, is to negotiate with a unity government. The Hamas leaders have always told me that they accept completely Abu Mazen, Mahmoud Abbas, to be their spokesperson, since he's the head of the PLO. And as you know the PLO is the only organization that Israel recognized officially as representing the Palestinians, not the Palestinian Authority. And Hamas has also always announced publicly and permitted me to announce that they would accept any agreement that is reached between Abu Mazen and your prime minister provided it's submitted to the Palestinians in a referendum and is approved. So I think that the involvement of Hamas is necessary, and I know that many members of Hamas are not averse to accepting Israel as a neighbor in a future peace."

June 16th UNRWA Graduation Speech

"In his speech in Cairo,  President Obama said that Hamas has support among Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a full role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, accept existing peace agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist.

I have urged Hamas leaders to accept these conditions, and they have made statements and taken actions that suggest they are ready to join the peace process and move toward the creation of an independent and just Palestinian state.

Khaled Mashaal has assured me that Hamas will accept a final status agreement negotiated by the Palestinian Authority and Israel if the Palestinian people approve it in a referendum.  Hamas has offered a reciprocal ceasefire with Israel throughout the West Bank and Gaza. Unfortunately, neither the Israeli leaders nor Hamas accept the terms of the Oslo Agreement of 1993, but the Arab Peace Initiative is being considered now by all sides.

Veteran global affairs journalist Helena Cobban (Just World News) describes her views on Hamas' participation in the peace process in the June 24th Christian Science Monitor article "My Talk With Hamas About Peace With Israel.  Her ideas are based on her decades of investigative Middle East reporting, and her June 4th interview with Hamas' head Khaled Meshaal.


~ In 2006 it (Hamas) won parliamentary elections held in the West Bank and Gaza. More recently it survived the military onslaught Israel launched against Gaza last December – and in the wake of that war, Hamas's popularity among Palestinians increased.

Meanwhile, Washington's ongoing campaign to strengthen the rival Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has backfired badly. Rather than strengthening Fatah, the aid that Washington and its allies have sent to Mr. Abbas has further fueled the nepotism and corruption within Fatah and hastened its internal decline.

~ Meshaal is a sober, intelligent man who talks in a way that seems much more "political," and politically savvy, than religious. He stressed that Hamas wanted to be "part of the solution, not part of the problem."

He expressed a strong desire for Hamas to heal its present deep rift with Fatah. He also reaffirmed Hamas's support for a 2006 proposal whereby Abbas or other non-Hamas negotiators would conduct the actual peace negotiations with Israel. Any resulting peace agreement would then be submitted to a Palestinian-wide referendum, and Hamas would abide by its results, he said.

If Hamas and Fatah can rebuild enough trust to authorize a unified Palestinian team to start negotiating, this proposal could allow peace talks to proceed without finding a complete prior answer to the West's "dealing with Hamas" problem.

~ If Hamas is folded into the peacemaking, it would emerge – like South Africa's African National Congress, or Northern Ireland's Sinn Fein – as a very different organization afterward.

In addition, if Obama's peace diplomacy works – with Israelis, Palestinians, and other Arabs – then the whole Arab-Israeli arena would become very different from what we see today. Israel and its neighbors could finally turn their attentions away from preparing and waging war and rebuild their own societies in a climate of security and hope.

On July 19th, Howard Schneider and Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post documented that a late June meeting took place between Thomas Pickering and two Hamas officials in Switzerland.  Mr. Pickering is a former U.S. Ambassador to Israel under President Reagan, Ambassador to the U.N. under President George H.W. Bush, and Undersecretary of State under President Clinton.  Currently, he is a co-chair of the International Crisis Group, a Senior Adviser to the U.S./Middle East Project, and a signatory of the "Bipartisan Statement On U.S. Middle East Peacemaking" that was delivered to President Obama this past March.

Still, the Pickering meeting took place in the context of Obama administration efforts to reach out to forces in the Middle East that were shunned under Bush. It was held in between President Obama's June 4 speech in Cairo, in which he acknowledged popular support for Hamas among Palestinians, and a June 25 speech by Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, in which Meshal said the armed movement was ready to deal with the international community in order to reach an agreement with Israel. Pickering, co-chair of the nonprofit International Crisis Group, would not comment.

In the same article, IDF Brigadier General Brom states his thoughts on Mr. Meshaal's June 25th speech and its possibility to allow for a thawing of the relationship betwen Hamas and the West.

Meshal's speech, delivered from Damascus, the Syrian capital, was considered an overture to Obama. "The purpose of the speech was to convince the West that Hamas is a partner for dialogue," retired Israeli Brig. Gen. Shlomo Brom, director of the Israeli-Palestinian Relations Program at Tel Aviv University, wrote in a recent paper. "The speech will make it easier for elements in Western Europe and within Obama's administration that support dialogue with Hamas to advance their position."

Even Shin Bet Security Chief Yuval Diskin has noted changes in Hamas' recent rhetorical changes.  The July 20th Haaretz article "PM Rebukes Shin Bet Chief: Stay Out Of Peace Process" by Barak Ravid desribes Mr. Diskin's presentation at Prime Minister Netanyahu's most recent weekly cabinet meeting.

"Public statements by leaders attest to efforts by Hamas to appear interested in ending the conflict with Israel, based on the model of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders in exchange for a long-term hudnah [cease-fire]," Diskin said before Netanyahu silenced him. "This doesn't mean they have abandoned ideological principles. Hamas is turning to the diplomatic sphere to challenge exclusive control by Abu Mazen," Diskin said, refering to PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

There are many governments who have failed in their attempts to support the destruction of Hamas with weapons and an economic blockade.  These same groups have also tried to significantly weaken Hamas by providing economic and security benefits to West Bank Palestinians through the rival Fatah party.  Whether or not these gains are actually successful,  Hamas has continued to survive because West Bank Palestinians understand that the benefits have not led to, and do not appear to lead to, the end of the Israeli Occupation.

The statements of these Palestinian, Israeli, and American citizens reveal that there are important and powerful people who are trying to realistically and positively change the diplomatic conversation.  They understand that Hamas is a permanent fixture in Palestinian politics and Palestinian society.  As such, there is no way to obtain a long term resolution to this horrendous conflict without their inclusion.  Hopefully, President Obama will have the strength to listen to these growing voices, and hopefully, we will have the courage to support him.

Originally posted to rbguy on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 05:36 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We're actually taking a step back; Fatah (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JPhurst, deaniac20
    is now not recognizing Israel either and will be displaying its commitment to "armed struggle" at its upcoming convention

    "i find the resemblace of DemocraticLuntz and Arken to Disney style yapping jackals to be astoundingly accurate"

    by DemocraticLuntz on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 05:39:00 PM PDT

  •  Maybe they are meeting with Hamas (13+ / 0-)

    And we just don't know about it. Keep in mind, Israeli prime ministers met with Jordan's King Hussein quite frequently in secret, during the 1960s and 70s.  In addition, there were secret meetings between Israeli government officials and Palestinian leaders prior to the public meetings in the 1980s and 1990s.  

    Obama strikes me as a pretty smart guy, unlike his predecessor. I think he knows that Hamas has to be brought into the discussion in some way.

    In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

    by Paul in Berkeley on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 05:46:30 PM PDT

  •  i think.... (7+ / 0-)

    you raise interesting points.... and are quickly becoming one of my favourite diarists on this particular issue. that said - i think you touch on one of largest roadblocks in this process and that is the complexity of palestinian leadership in providing a peace partnership.

    "Democracy! Bah! When I hear that word I reach for my feather Boa!" - Allen Ginsberg

    by canadian gal on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 06:13:33 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for the comment, (9+ / 0-)

      You raise an interesting point, as well.  Fatah certainly has many internal problems, including the lack of trust many party members have in Mr. Abbas.  Also, Hamas is basically isolated from a diplomatic perspective.

      With that being stated, Hamas leadership on several occasions has mentioned that it is willing to allow Mr. Abbas to lead the negotiations with Israel and then bring the results of a final peace deal to the Palestinian people in a national referendum.

      Quite possibly, if the international community is more supportive of Hamas' diplomatic inclusion, then Abbas can have more freedom and support within Palestinian society to negotiate.

      The other possibility, which I believe is mentioned in Mr. Brown's commentary, is that the international community can lend its support for a National Unity Government and then have elections for a new government.  This government can then negotiate.  This option, while still valid, presents a longer timeframe.

      Either option, however, includes international support, which has been lacking for many years.

      •  Abbas's credibility (5+ / 0-)

        is exhausted. He is widely and rightly viewed as a tool. The one man who could best command the support of both the Hamas and Fatah rank and file and actually negotiate with Israel, Marwan Barghouti, is sitting in an Israeli prison.

        •  they know that too (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          capelza, heathlander, Terra Mystica, rbguy

          if they had any integrity they would release him.

        •  one more thing re Barghouti (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          weasel, capelza

          i wondered if he was going to be part of the prisoner exchange. have you read this?

             
          Egypt: Deporting prisoners unethical
          ..

          Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit says that most issues concerning a prisoner exchange deal between Israel  and Hamas  which would secure kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's release have already been agreed upon, and the only obstacle left is Israel's insistence on deporting West Bank prisoners to the Gaza Strip.

          In an interview with London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat, Aboul Gheit said that Israel's demand to deport prisoners  was "unacceptable from a moral and human point of view."

          The Egyptian minister noted that "the number of prisoners to be released by Israel has already been agreed on, as were the stages of the release. Many arrangements have also been agreed upon, including the problem of some of the Palestinians holding an Israeli citizenship and the deportation from the territories."

          He added that "the talks between Egypt and Israel on this matter have dealt with Israel changing its demands and accepting the Egyptian logic. We can guarantee that those freed will not harm Israel's security after their release. We are taking this on our shoulders, but the Israelis are insisting on deporting them, and this is unacceptable."

          i put nothing past them.

  •  Thank you rbguy.. (13+ / 0-)

    ..excellent work as usual. This diary should be on the recommneded list.  I couldn't agree more with this:

    Finally, cease discouraging Palestinian national reconciliation and make clear that a government that agrees to a ceasefire with Israel, accepts President Mahmoud Abbas as the chief negotiator, and commits to abiding by the results of a national referendum on a future peace agreement would not be boycotted or sanctioned.

    Palestinian reconciliation is imperative -- for the Palestinian people, and hopes for a negotiated two state settlement.

    •  Thanks, again, Sofia (10+ / 0-)

      You certainly highlighted what I believe to be the best possible option for success, and it also has the support of U.S. officials who worked for Democrats and Republicans.

    •  right, this is absolutely (11+ / 0-)

      crucial. The 'divide and rule' policy followed by the US and Israel for the past few years and still being pursued today drastically reduces the chances of achieving a negotiated settlement to the conflict and has caused significant and lasting harm to Palestinian society and politics (not least in the hundreds of people killed and injured in the internecine conflict).

      •  And of course.. (13+ / 0-)

        ..a negotiated two-state solution is in Israel's interest as well, and without Palestinian reconciliation it won't happen.

      •  Somehow I knew you would go there (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        oldskooldem

        Once again treating the Palestinians as nothing more than puppets, incapable of making any decisions on their own.  Once again overlooking the fact that Hamas and Fatah are locked in a power struggle that is largely internal, with little to do with Israel. Let's face it, if you can see that Israel and the US are trying to divide the Palestinians, then certainly both Hamas's and Fatah's leaders can see it.  So why are they allowing it?

        The answer is obvious. They are allowing it because it suits their particular agendas as well.

        In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

        by Paul in Berkeley on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 08:15:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Paul, that's an absurd argument (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          zannie, Terra Mystica, Alec82, soysauce

          and I'm sure you know it. To say that US/EU/Israeli policies have encouraged and formented internal Palestinian conflict, and discouraged power-sharing and political reconciliation, is not to deny Palestinians agency or responsibility for their own actions. It is simply to put the focus where it belongs: on our actions and their consequences.

          Plainly there are many factors driving the Hamas-Fatah conflict, but our 'divide and rule' policy has been one of the most significant. To give one example, the ICG reports that US/EU/Israeli policy "contributed mightily" to the collapse of the National Unity government in January 2007, which triggered an escalation in the internecine conflict that led, ultimately, to the forcible takeover of Gaza by Hamas in June 2007.

          "So why are they allowing it?"

          Because they're in a very difficult position, and to reject US/Israeli Israeli carries an enormous cost? Because the PA is heavily dependent on the US and Israel? Recall that after Hamas was elected, it openly requested a power-sharing arrangement with Fatah. The US, EU and Israel responded to its electoral victory by imposing on the Palestinians "possibly the most rigorous form of international sanctions ... in modern times", refusing to engage with any government of which Hamas was a member, kidnapping a third of the Palestinian cabinet, launching vicious assaults ('Summer Rains', 'Autumn Clouds', etc.) that killed over 600 people, most of them civilians, illegally withholding the tax revenues collected by Israel as the occupying power on the PA's behalf, and so on. After the engineered collapse of the National Unity government and Hamas's subsequent takeover of Gaza these same actors resumed diplomatic engagement with and the flow of aid to the PA, on the express condition that it refuse to negotiate or share power with Hamas. In other words, either do what we say or face a return to the conditions of 2006: soaring poverty and malnutrition and a massive escalation in violence.

          That plainly puts the PA in a very difficult position. Again, none of this to deny the internal Palestinian motors for the conflict, it is simply to observe that our role in this has been significant and destructive. As the ICG (referring to the collapse of the unity govt.) puts it, to "minimise the role of outside players" in engineering the conflict would be "disingenuous in the extreme".

          •  * 'to reject US/Israeli *pressure*', I mean. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Terra Mystica

            In policy terms, what this means is that if we want to achieve some level of cooperation between Hamas and Fatah, the first thing we should do is to stop actively discouraging it, and instead use our enormous leverage over Israel and the PA to encourage political reconciliation and possibly some form of power-sharing arrangement. Perhaps that won't, on its own, be sufficient to reach an agreement, but it's a necessary first step.

  •  Thanks for the diary, rbguy! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lefty Coaster, Terra Mystica, rbguy
    Though CAP's recommendations may be well intentioned, focussing on winning Israeli public opinion rather than a Hamas/Fatah rapprochment is a waste of precious time for the Obama administration.

    "Trolling is a sad reality of internet life...Directly replying to the content of a trollish message is usually a waste of time"

    by Rusty Pipes on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 06:52:23 PM PDT

    •  Thanks, Rusty (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zannie, sofia, blueness, heathlander, Alec82

      I do believe that the CAP paper has some good ideas, but I just could not get passed the point that they did not reach out to Hamas members, even those in the West Bank that recently met with President Carter.  Also, I could not get a sense that the analysts and journalists that they met with have any extensive and intimate knowledge of Gaza.

      In my opinion, the time has passed to have reports, meetings, and hearings, however well intentioned, that fail to directly involve Hamas.

  •  Thanks for this (10+ / 0-)

    an excellent round-up of important information. If commenters here actually went and read the links you've compiled I think quite a few would return here with their views a lot more nuanced and sophisticated.

    This:

    "They understand that Hamas is a permanent fixture in Palestinian politics and Palestinian society.  As such, there is no way to obtain a long term resolution to this horrendous conflict without their inclusion."

    sums it all up quite nicely. Hamas has a core base of support among the Palestinian population that isn't going to disappear any time soon. It can be neither ignored nor, barring some sort of genocide against the Palestinian population, destroyed militarily, and it has both the incentive and the means to derail any peace process from which it is excluded. These (widely recognised) facts leave us with essentially two options: to try to include Hamas in a genuine peace process, or to forget about the idea of a negotiated solution to the conflict.

    It is fortunate, then, that Hamas does not in fact conform to the uncompromisingly irredentist, fanatical, violent, anti-Semitic terrorist group it is so often portrayed as. It has in practice come very close to accepting a two-state settlement, largely abandoned violent resistance against Israel, increasingly distanced itself from the antisemitism of its Charter, called for and adhered to long-term ceasefires with Israel and called for direct negotiations with the US to achieve a negotiated settlement along the lines of the 2002 Arab peace initiative.

    Worth reading in this regard is this report [.pdf] recently published by the US Institute for Peace ('Hamas: Ideological Rigidity and Political Flexibility').

  •  I like the CFAP ideas (0+ / 0-)

    they are great plans

    The Obama administration needs to win over more Israelis to its strategy for the region and consolidate a Palestinian leadership able to negotiate an enduring agreement in order to achieve a two-state solution.

    Good, first they admit we do need a better strategy with the Israelis.

    Plan for the possibility of Palestinian elections in the coming year.
    ~ Develop an integrated program to strengthen Palestinian institutions in a broad      range of sectors to lay the foundations for statehood.
    ~ Take immediate action to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
    ~ Conduct a pubc outreach and strategic communications effort in the Middle East outlining U.S. regional strategy, with increased attention to Israeli public opinion.

    I see nothing wrong with any of this. The fact is Hamas should only ever be thought of being dealt with, IMO, if they win the next eelction. The plan to hold an election is a great idea, given their dying popularity. And economic peace is definitely needed for the Palestinians as well.

    Why do I not want Israel to deal with Hamas? Well I think Israel first had to deal with the PLO before it renounced violence, then had to deal with Arafat afterwards, and then had to deal with Hamas. But at least before there were two major competitors like Hamas and Fatah, it was less fractured, meaning you didn't have division. What's next? Three big parties should this time's peace talks fail? And then four, five, etc.?

    Hamas has shown to be far more radical and violent than Fatah has of recently, and why would we want to screw Palestinian society over with such an oppressive group? Does anyone believe, after the failed unity talks and the Battle of Gaza, they'd enter power with Fatah peacefully? I actually think there may wind up being two Palestinian states, like how Bangladesh and Pakistan split.

    I say hold elections soon. Hamas could very well lose. If they win, then I think if they cannot truly be destroyed somehow, maybe the idea could be entertained. But its hard, because they are so autocratic.

    "Like America, Israel is a strong democracy, a symbol of freedom, and an oasis of liberty, a home to the oppressed and persecuted." -President Bill Clinton

    by deaniac20 on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 08:42:42 PM PDT

  •  not to mention they still won't revoke (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldskooldem
    their charter and their anti-semitic principles, and their members won't renounce violence and at least recognize Israel or a "Zionist state." Hamas has no place in negotiations.

    "Like America, Israel is a strong democracy, a symbol of freedom, and an oasis of liberty, a home to the oppressed and persecuted." -President Bill Clinton

    by deaniac20 on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 08:45:24 PM PDT

    •  Its almost like you can channel Bibi (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zannie, Alec82

      Insurance, Oil, Banking, and Defense corporations all have a substantial equity positions in what's supposed to be our Congress.

      by Lefty Coaster on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 09:43:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm pretty sure most Israelis (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        oldskooldem

        of course not all, but most, even in the Labor/Kadima parties do not want a hamas there that will not renounce its charter and tactics and recognize Israel.

        "Like America, Israel is a strong democracy, a symbol of freedom, and an oasis of liberty, a home to the oppressed and persecuted." -President Bill Clinton

        by deaniac20 on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 10:27:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i'm pretty sure most palestinians (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Alec82, canadian gal

          do not want bibi negotiating either. maybe each side could choose who they could negotiate with on the opposing side, rather than being able to choose who will represent themselves.

          •  Bibi is not Hamas. He doesn't advocate (0+ / 0-)

            his people blowing themselves to peaces in crowds of Palestinians.

            Also, Israel is the moral AND winning party in this conflict. They haven't been eliminated. the PA must negotiate with him already. And Israel should never negotiate with Hamas. Ever, until they renounce terrorism, acknowledge Israel and go by past agreements. But then they wouldn't really be Hamas. Hamas is EVIL, and a terror group, and always has been.

            "Like America, Israel is a strong democracy, a symbol of freedom, and an oasis of liberty, a home to the oppressed and persecuted." -President Bill Clinton

            by deaniac20 on Thu Jul 23, 2009 at 09:12:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  from (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              capelza, heathlander, Alec82

              heathlanders crisis group link upthread

              But a new Fatah-Hamas power-sharing arrangement is a prerequisite for a sustainable peace. If and when it happens the rest of the world must do what it should have before: accept it.

              those serious about a 2 state solution are advocates of a strong unified palestinian consensus. that won't happen without hamas, not anytime soon anyway. i recognize your need to demonize but it won't further a lasting peace.

  •  Hamas leader accuses Fatah of obstructing unity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    capelza

      Xinhua News Agencyreporting from gaza

    BEIJING, July 23 -- Senior leader of Palestinian Hamas movement Ismail Haneya accused Fatah party of obstructing efforts made by Egypt to broker the Palestinian reconciliation agreement which is sought to end the consequences of Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza.

       Speaking at a reception held for students who achieved good marks in secondary school exams in Gaza, Haneya said Hamas is ready to quit power for the sake of reaching unity.

       Haneya said Fatah's method doesn't help reach a deal. Wherever the two sides make progress, there is a step backward, Haneya said, referring to slow-moving dialogue sessions the factions have been holding in Cairo since March.

       Haneya said Hamas, which has been controlling the Gaza Strip since 2007, is ready to give up posts in the government and the cabinet for the sake of unity but it will never drop any of its rights and principles in Palestine.
    ...
       The Palestinian rivals are scheduled to hold another round of dialogue in August. The dialogue is to focus on reconciling Hamas and Fatah on a transitional unified government until elections in January next year.

  •  Another excellent diary, rbguy. It is a marker (7+ / 0-)

    of the extent that cooler, practical heads are prevailing in advancing an alternative, inclusive process.  One that may actually lead to a resolution of this conflict.  It is a hopeful sign that it is so broadly based.

    Thanks again, for this and your general part in the above.

    "Peace be the journey. Cool Runnings!"

    by Terra Mystica on Thu Jul 23, 2009 at 11:58:40 AM PDT

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