Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Obama Has No Choice But To Engage Hamas

Gulf News editorial (04/05/2011): US must realise that Fatah cannot build Palestine's future without group's support
The recent reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas in Palestine requires the open and enthusiastic backing of all Arab states, and all world leaders. It is an important development, and one of the first regional changes following the Arab Spring in Cairo as the interim government has abandoned the blind pro-Washington stance of the Mubarak era.

The Egyptian foreign minister has urged the US to support the declaration of an independent Palestinian state. He is right to do this and it is important that the US changes its mind on its refusal to talk to Hamas, or indeed any government involving Hamas, on the dubious grounds that it classes Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

The US has to realise that the future of Palestine will include elements from Hamas, and Fatah, and it will have to talk to them and work with them in the end. It would be much better to start now, and certainly no later than the new elections planned in Palestine for September.

Israel will resist the unity deal, and do all that it can to wreck the process. The Netanyahu government has greatly enjoyed the split between the two major parties in Palestine, and has used it to help generate chaos in Palestine. The White House must take the opportunity of the Arab Spring and the new start across the region to recognise that just because the Israelis like something does not make it right.

The Obama administration should take the important step of welcoming the reconciliation, and look forward to a new start in Palestinian affairs. It would be well advised to attend the meeting of Hamas leader Khalid Mesha'al and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo today when they sign their new deal.

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