The United States and Israel must change policy toward Hamas and engage the Palestinian militant group if progress is to be made on peace in the Middle East, a group of former peace negotiators said on Thursday.To put it bluntly, these people are idiots.
Writing in Britain's Times newspaper, 14 former foreign ministers and peace negotiators said the three-year policy under which Hamas has been ostracized by the international community had backfired and needed to be changed.
"There can be no meaningful peace process that involves negotiating with the representatives of one part of the Palestinians while simultaneously trying to destroy the other," wrote the signatories, who include Britain's Paddy Ashdown, a former negotiator in Bosnia, and Michael Ancram, who helped broker peace with the IRA in Northern Ireland.
Hamas, a militant group whose founding charter calls for Israel's destruction, won a Palestinian parliamentary election in January 2006, defeating long-time rival Fatah.
But the group was immediately cut off by Israel, the United States and the European Union, which regard it as a terrorist organization. Peace negotiations have, however, continued with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fatah.
The letter's signatories said Israel's recent war against Hamas in Gaza had "demonstrated that the policy of isolating Hamas cannot bring about stability."
"Bringing Hamas into the process does not amount to condoning terrorism or attacks on civilians," the letter will say, according to excerpts provided in advance.
"It can strengthen pragmatic elements and their ability to strike the hard compromises needed for peace."
The desperate desire to see progress towards peace, combined with a penchant to naively believe that every conflict can be solved through negotiations, plus years of obfuscation of the nature of Hamas by "even-handed" journalists and diplomats, cause otherwise smart people to lose their minds.
Here is what they have chosen to ignore:
Hamas is not a movement to create an independent Palestinian Arab state. It is a radical Islamic movement to destroy an independent Jewish state, and then join with other Islamic movements to destroy neighboring Arab states to create a single Islamic 'ummah.
Hamas' goals and means have been stated explicitly for decades, and they have not changed one iota. There are no "pragmatic" Hamas leaders, unless your definition of pragmatic means that they are willing to wait an additional decade or so before their goals are met.
Hamas' and its sister terror groups are exactly the same as Al Qaeda, with the exception that Hamas is concentrating on exclusively killing Israeli Jews in their attacks. Hamas, Al Qaeda and all of the other groups that originally came from the Muslim Brotherhood agree on their goals, their strategy and their tactics. Therefore, to advocate bringing Hamas in for negotiations is the same as asking to negotiate with Bin Laden's more "pragmatic" deputies.
Israel is negotiating with Hamas, through Egypt, to make an accommodation with the de facto rulers of Gaza. This is the way it should be for specific issues that can be solved. But to engage Hamas without the Quartet's preconditions means that these morons are demanding that Israel negotiate its own destruction.