Many will say that there is little rational reason for dealing with Hamas. They are a terrorist group that cannot be reasoned with when it comes to a two-state solution for Palestine/Israel. The question I have is this: how much of American/Israeli behavior or ideology has polarized this issue and turned many to extremist stances? In a way, Benjamin Netayanhu needs Hamas to continue to act like lunatics to prop up his stance that there is no need for a two state solution. Land grabs by Israel do much to anger, frustrate, and radicalize Palestinians:
Of course Hamas is a problem, and I have no sympathy either for its terror tactics or for the rabid anti-Semitism and primitive, fundamentalist language of its charter. But research shows that peace can never be achieved by leaving out a major player. Whether we like it or not, Hamas is an integral part of Palestinian society.
The smart way to deal with Hamas is to force it to change its position by strengthening Fatah’s moderate line. Hamas is already under great pressure because of the ongoing changes in the Arab world: they may soon be bereft of any power-base outside the Palestinian territories, hence their hurry for reconciliation with Fatah.
International recognition of Palestine will be credited to Fatah; and if Israel dramatically expands the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, this will further convince Palestinians, that Hamas’ hard-line policies are opposed to their interests.
The problem is that Netanyahu has no motivation to maneuver Hamas into moderation, because an extremist Hamas is really Netanyahu’s best friend. A Hamas that moderates its stance and takes the way of the IRA from a terror organization to a legitimate party in a peace process is an existential threat to Netanyahu’s political future. Without a hard-line Hamas, he would be left with no case against a Palestinian state, and he would have to face open conflict with the hard-line right-wingers in his own party and in his coalition in actual moves towards peace.
Expect Netanyahu to do everything to torpedo recognition of Palestine; expect him to try to weaken Fatah, Abu Mazen and Fayyad, and thus to strengthen Hamas’ extremist wing. As a result, Israel’s legitimacy will indeed come under ever more fire. But let’s face it: this is good for Netanyahu. No right-wing politician ever stayed in power if he didn’t succeed in frightening his electorate to death.