THE ISLAMIST ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM.

Over at Middle East Progress, Rafi Dajani and Ghaith Al-Omari state what should be obvious in regard to a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal: While it may be possible to reach one without including Hamas, it will be impossible to implement.

Implementing a peace agreement...will require Palestinian reconciliation. If such an agreement meets Palestinian national aspirations and is backed by key Arab countries, namely Saudi Arabia, it is hard to imagine Hamas opposing it and risking further alienating the Palestinian people.

[...]

The PA’s basic message — liberation through negotiation — needs serious rehabilitation through significant, concrete and credible progress toward a permanent status deal and the establishment of a Palestinian state. If such progress is made, Hamas will find itself in the untenable and losing position of campaigning against a Palestinian state. Palestinian president Abbas will be able to negotiate the inevitable future agreement with Hamas for national unity from a position of strength and based on acceptable conditions.

Despite the attempts of conservative pundits to cast Hamas' 2006 electoral victory simply and totally as an expression of eliminationist Israel-hatred, that vote is more accurately understood as registering the deep Palestinian dissatisfaction with the petty corruption of local Fatah officials, and, more significantly, with the failure of the Fatah leadership to make any progress toward ending the Israeli occupation and settlement activities. If Mahmoud Abbas were able to go to the Palestinians with something to show for his negotiating efforts, tangible results such as a removal of some of the Israeli military checkpoints and withdrawal of some of the settlement outposts, his position vis-a-vis Hamas would be greatly strengthened. In any case, the idea that Hamas can continue to be iced out of the process, at least a process that's expected to go anywhere, is a fantasy.

--Matthew Duss

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