Henry Kissinger writes a lengthy op-ed today in the Washington Post about the effect that Hamas’ election to power has had on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. (Has Henry ever been accused of brevity?) He demonstrates his brilliance once again here, arguing that Hamas needs an Ariel Sharon, a man who will publicly break with long-held policies in order to grab a chance for peace, before Hamas can expect anyone to take them seriously:
The emergence of Hamas as the dominant faction in Palestine should not be treated as a radical departure. Hamas represents the mind-set that prevented the full recognition of Israel’s legitimacy by the PLO for all these decades, kept Yasser Arafat from accepting partition of Palestine at Camp David in 2000, produced two intifadas and consistently supported terrorism. Far too much of the debate within the Palestinian camp has been over whether Israel should be destroyed immediately by permanent confrontation or in stages in which occasional negotiations serve as periodic armistices. The reaction of the PLO’s Fatah to the Hamas electoral victory has been an attempt to outflank Hamas on the radical side. Only a small number of moderates have accepted genuine and permanent coexistence. …
The advent of Hamas brings us to a point where the peace process must be brought into some conformity with conditions on the ground. The old game plan that Palestinian elections would produce a moderate secular partner cannot be implemented with Hamas in the near future. What would be needed from Hamas is an evolution comparable to Sharon’s.
Read the whole essay. It points out yet again the folly of taking the Palestinians seriously as partners for peace, given their expressed desire to destroy Israel. Only until Hamas and the Palestinians accept the permanent status of Israel will they bring anything to the table. Until then, the two parties have no commonality of purpose and therefore no basis on which to negotiate.