Ignoring Opportunities: Israel and Palestine

This is a few days' old, but if you happen to blissfully believe we can ignore what's going on in the Palestinian land because Iraq is such a mess, think again. All of this mess is far more tangled together than any 10 sets of your old Christmas light sets (oh hell, for Bill O'Reilly's sake, let me say "holiday" instead). As long as Palestinians are always left as outcasts, there will be no peace anywhere... not in the Middle East and not for us either.

Posted by Steve Clemons at the Washington Note:

This is a fascinating, sober piece by Harvard University's Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou on Israel-Palestine problems that looks at Hamas as an evolving, "astute" political player that needs to be engaged one way or another in any new effort at regional deal-making in the Middle East.

Here's one section:
    Ignoring the general disposition of Hamas and its dogged political determination merely tells a story of intransigence feeding intransigence.

    For the insistence on treating this organization as a terrorist group obscures the central fact of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.

    In that context, a militant group that emerges as a resistance movement; grows into a social-support organization efficiently operating schools, health-care centers and welfare services; suspends its resort to force; and agrees to abide by the rules of democratic contest cannot be termed terrorist.

    As it is, Hamas has unilaterally declared since March 2005 a self-imposed cease-fire (tahdiya), which it respected for 15 months until the Israeli killing of the picnicking seven-member Ghalya family, following which the group's armed wing led a commando operation on an Israeli army base.

    On Nov. 9, Israeli forces again killed 17 individuals also members of a same family, the Althamna of Beit Hanoun.

    All along, the Israeli government failed to reciprocate the cease-fire declaration and multiplied near-daily military incursions invariably resulting in casualties.

    Since June, close to 300 Palestinians have been killed, 30 of them children.

    Regarding the other two demands of the international community, Hamas had offered in January 2004 -- and reiterated as late as Nov. 1 -- to enter into political negotiations leading to a 10-year truce (hudna), and the movement has been part to discussions, in September, on a draft document for a program that would "respect previous agreements in a manner that protects and safeguards the higher interests and the rights of the Palestinian people."