Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Finally, finally, someone in the U.S. State Department is coming to realize that there can be no peace between Israel and the Palestinians until Hamas is allowed in to the negotiations. Helene Cooper writes today for The New York Times:

"After ruling out talks with Hamas, the militant Islamist group, the Bush administration is using Egypt as an intermediary to open a channel between Israel and representatives of the group, in what some diplomats say could be a softening of the American stance.

"While administration officials still say they do not plan to deal directly with Hamas, the United States has given tacit support to an attempt by Egyptian officials to mediate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza.

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussed the mediation attempt with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Cairo early this month, and with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, administration officials said. Egyptian civilian intelligence officials are the go-betweens, Arab diplomats said."

Palestinians freely chose Hamas in 2006 to represent them in self-rule. Nevertheless, George W. Bush, who loudly proclaims how much freedom and democracy are gifts of God, was taken back by the voting results. He refused to accept Hamas, claiming it was a "terrorist" organization. He demanded that it first accept Israel. The result has been an increasing dangerous and volatile situation between Israel and the Palestinians, marked with frequent clashes, rocket attacks, missile assassinations and Israeli military incursions into Gaza for the purpose of killing militant Palestinians.

Hamas must be recognized and brought into any negotiations. The demand that Hamas recognize Israel de jure must be dropped in favor of the de facto recognition that Hamas would accord simply by being at the negotiation table with Israel.

Israel must stop calling Hezbollah and Hamas "terrorist organizations." That term is merely an obstacle to any discussion or negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians. We all know that a "terrorist organization" for one side is invariably a group of liberating patriots for the other. Both sides must begin working with each other on the creation of ways to coexist without shooting missiles, rockets and bombs.

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