We held a good discussion, heavily attended, at the Wilson Center, together with Dr. Robert Pastor and Mr. Leo Kramer on Gaza and Hamas. Here is the video of the event. All of us were in agreement about the need for serious engagement with whoever is in charge of Gaza. This was decidedly different than other opinions also expressed at the Wilson Center by Robert Satloff and Ephraim Inbar.
It is hard to know what is really going on right now behind the scenes in relations between the United States, Israel, the PA/Fatah and Hamas. Whatever can lead to breakthroughs in my mind is the path forward. Whether it be on prisoner exchange, release of Barghouti who by all statistics could become a unifying leader of Palestine, or a way to break the inhumane blockade. I remain dubious about forcing Hamas to concede to conditions in advance rather than engage them in unconditional negotiations. It feels to me as if Clinton and others have succumbed to the blackmail approach of holding Gaza hostage for Hamas’ acceptance of Israel’s right to exist. This is inhumane plain and simple. On the other hand, I understand the desire to push Hamas in the direction of nonviolence. But recognition of Israel should be the culmination of a negotiation and a final settlement, not the beginning. Nonviolence as a condition makes sense but surrender of all of one’s bargaining chips at the beginning feels like a continuing misunderstanding of the struggle.© Marc Gopin