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Monday, March 3, 2008

Condi's message and those pushing to mainstream Hamas

About Condi’s trip and the President’s stance on the Hamas Qassam bombings.
From the President’s Press Spokesman, Gordon Johndroe March 3, 2008 [excerpts]
Q On Condi's trip to the Mideast, what's the expectations, and how does she deal with the recent flare-up?
MR. JOHNDROE: We have a clear message: The Palestinian people have a choice to make. It's a choice between terrorism, or a choice between a political solution that leads to a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel.
The number one thing that has to happen is Hamas has got to stop targeting Israeli citizens with rockets. It must stop. The parties then need to get back to the negotiating table and have discussions. Ultimately, it is in the best interest of the Palestinian people and their future, and also in the best interest of the Israelis and the whole region, for these two parties to have discussions that leads to a peaceful settlement.
Q Does the President -- in infer from your comments that the President does not feel that Israel has used disproportionate force, as the Secretary General of the U.N. has said?
MR. JOHNDROE: Look, we obviously don't want any innocent civilians to lose their life, but I think that started with these rockets that have been fired from Gaza into Israel, recently killing and injuring Israeli citizens in some of their bigger cities. So they've had these -- a barrage of rockets fired out of Hamas for some time now, and now Hamas escalated it, firing larger rockets longer-range and killing people. And so that's got to stop.
Q Do you guys think there's any possible way to have a peace negotiation, a peace accord if there is a divided Palestinian group? [For what is behind this question, see below* -- Mark]
MR. JOHNDROE: As the President has said, it's a two-state solution, not a three-state solution. But I think I'm going to wait for Secretary Rice to get there and have her discussions before I say anything more.
*The New York Times today has a news analysis that touches upon the question of what to do about/with Hamas. The Times article seems to feature respondents who favor Israel talking with Hamas.
[From the article] Aaron David Miller, author of “The Much Too Promised Land: America’s Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace.” “You cannot make peace with half of the Palestinian polity and go to war with the other half.” [ Here, Miller supports the advice advanced by Robert Malley who, in a recent op ed, suggested that a three-way deal between Hamas – Abbas- and Israel – is the only way to attain peace.]
. Martin Indyk, the former United States ambassador to Israel, said such a cease-fire would further undermine Mr. Abbas and make it look like Hamas is the entity with which Israel and the West should be negotiating. “Excluding them doesn’t work, and including them doesn’t work, either,” Mr. Indyk said. “So what do you do? This is a situation that does not lend itself to a sensible policy.”
Shlomo Brom, a retired general at the Institute for National Security Studies, …advocates dialogue with Hamas. But the United States and Israel have refused to deal with Hamas leaders unless the organization forswears violence and acknowledges Israel’s right to exist.
Ali Abunimah, a research fellow at the Palestine Center, a Washington-based advocacy group, derided the American strategy of ignoring Hamas: “You can’t talk to them. You can’t deal with them. You just cover your ears, close your eyes and pretend they don’t exist.”
[As to what message Condi will purportedly bring:] So Ms. Rice will try to press surrogates, including Egypt, to lean on Hamas, administration officials say. And she will sharply criticize rocket attacks on civilian Israeli targets, and publicly charge Hamas with hiding behind civilians in Gaza.

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