The Obama administration should engage with Hamas,which controls the Gaza Strip,to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict as there could be no solution to the issue by keeping the militant faction out of the dialogue process,a top commentator of a prestigious think tank in New York said.
“It will be impossible to manage,much less resolve,the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while ignoring Hamas. The Obama administration should use diplomacy to restore a liveable situation for the present,and at a later date move back toward longer-term diplomacy,” Nathan J Brown,an expert from Carnegie Endowment said in a new commentary.
The West Bank First strategy of building up the Ramallah-based government is not working,Brown,also a professor of Political Science and International affairs at George Washington University,said.
Palestinians in the West Bank have seen only modest improvements in living standards and security with no sign at all that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank will end,he said.
Besides,he added,elections will not out manoeuvre Hamas.
Elections cannot be held in Gaza without Hamas’ cooperation which they are unlikely to give if the deck is stacked against them,he said.
“And there is no guarantee they will lose,” Brown said adding the public disagreements within Hamas do occur on occasion but schisms are almost unknown.
Fatah which controls West Bank,Brown said,has shown no signs of rebuilding or reforming itself after its electoral rebuke in 2006,brown said.
“Their leaders have focused on short-term solutions and returning to power.”
The donors or actors looking to work with the Palestinian Authority and avoid Hamas in Gaza have forgotten that in Gaza,Hamas is the Palestinian Authority,he said pointing out that soft-liners are unlikely to split from Hamas.
“There may be no Nobel Prize to be had,but making sure the real negotiations succeed and then immediately worrying about the next step is a far more promising approach than pretending that the parties can be cajoled,muscled,and jawboned into a final and comprehensive settlement under current conditions,” he opined.
The sober analysis of closed doors and missed opportunities may provoke despair,Brown concluded.
In fact,meaningful negotiations which are taking place between Israelis and Palestinians right now,specifically exclude mutual recognition and permanence,he said.
“The real negotiations are taking place not between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas,but between Israel and Hamas,” he opined.
The talks are indirect but deal with some familiar issues,the terms of Israeli withdrawal,the nature of the cessation of hostilities,the role for international forces,the release of prisoners,the flow of goods,the patrol of borders,and the supply of weapons,Brown said.
“But they are doing so in some unfamiliar ways.
“Negotiations are now integrated with violence rather than posited as an alternative; and the two parties proudly proclaim their rejection of the other’s legitimacy.”