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February 11, 2006
Russia Offers Talks With Hamas

Vladimir Putin broke with most Western nations by inviting Hamas to the Kremlin for talks after their election. Despite the united front that most nations had taken on insisting that Hamas recognize Israel's existence and forswear terrorism before gaining any diplomatic standing, the Russians have decided to invite the Islamists to Red Square for talks. Now France has endorsed the Russian initiative, leaving the US and other European nations surprised:

France on Friday endorsed Russia's decision to hold talks on the Middle East conflict with Hamas, the radical Islamist Palestinian group, saying the discussion "can contribute to advancing our positions."

Other European countries distanced themselves from the French statement, which appeared to be in defiance of the American and European view that Hamas is a terrorist organization and therefore should not be officially recognized. Israel condemned it. ...

The United States considers Hamas a terrorist group, and American officials are forbidden to talk to the organization. The European Union's policy on talks is not as clear, several officials and diplomats said in interviews. But none said their countries would talk with Hamas.

Just when Hamas had really been stuck in a corner, forced by Fatah to form a government on its own and faced with economic disaster for its terrorist policies, Russia rides in to extend its gamesmanship in Southwest Asia. Israel erupted with an anger infrequently seen in diplomatic circles, calling the Russian initiative a "knife in the back." Israel has been forced into a long war with Hamas, which it (rightly) sees as an Iranian/Syrian proxy in the territories, and has endured countless attacks on civilian targets by the so-called "political" party. For Israel, the election of Hamas into power by the Palestinian people provided a rare moment of clarity for the world to recognize that the Palestinians are not prepared to accept a peaceful settlement in the region.

Instead of pressuring the Palestinians on the basis of their electoral choices, Russia decided to once again let them off the hook and deal directly with the terrorists they elected. And France, who should know better after the season of rioting they endured, has followed suit and encouraged the diplomacy. It violates one of the more trumpeted and lately most-violated tenets of the West: no negotiations with terrorists. And it will have its usual effect, which is to pump up the standing of the terrorists in Hamas and extend the war rather than bring it to an end.

Western nations need to rethink their entire approach to the Palestinians. They had several opportunities to get a two-state solution in the 1990s, starting with Oslo and ending at Wye. Bill Clinton, in one of his better moments, hammered out a deal for them that no one else could have extracted from the Israelis, and all it took was a signature from Yasser Arafat. He answered with an intifada that took thousands of lives.

Some argued that the PLO had a death grip on power and that the average Palestinian just wanted peace. After Arafat's death, Mahmoud Abbas tried working towards that end, either honestly or as a pretext, but even the pretext inflamed Palestinians. Hamas and Islamic Jihad continued their attacks on civilian targets while Israel received nothing but criticism for building a defensive wall to keep the terrorists from blowing up women and children on buses and in pizzerias. Now, after ten years, the Palestinians finally had a moderately fair election -- and they overwhelmingly elected terrorists to power.

When does the world finally listen to what the Palestinians say through their actions and their votes? They do not want peace; they want a war of annihilation, and they elected the party most likely to deliver it. It's time to quit engaging the Palestinians and let Israel give them the war they so desperately want. After four decades of trying to solve their problem, the world owes nothing to the Palestinians. Let them lie in the bed they have made.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 11, 2006 8:51 AM

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