Kinsman:Should U.S. diplomats meet with Hamas leaders when conducting ‘shuttle diplomacy’ in the Middle East?

By: /
24 November, 2012
By: Jeremy Kinsman
Former ambassador to the European Union and high commissioner to Britain

Of course. Purposeful diplomacy means talking with everybody, above or (as is currently happening) below the radar. Before the Arab Spring saw governments democratically elected in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, Hamas won an election in 2006 in Gaza (which caused a devastating Israeli blockade to “punish” the voters.) Like them or not, Hamas does represent the people who live there and currently suffer. Obviously, whoever wants a change in Hamas’ ambitions or behaviour, better talk to them, to clarify what Hamas has to do and keep doing to lose its U.S. and EU designations as a terrorist organization, and whether Hamas will confirm they could accept a recognized two-state solution along the lines of negotiated pre-1967 borders. Haaretz polls have indicated a majority of Israelis themselves favour direct negotiation with Hamas.

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