Talk With Hamas? Why Not?

Just before Barack Obama took office, he was handed a letter from ten notable Americans, mostly former officials like Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Paul Volcker. The letter urged Obama to stop shunning Hamas and open talks with them:

“I see no reason not to talk to Hamas,” said Scowcroft, who was national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush.

That’s a view that seems to be gaining steam around the world. In the U.K., a group of politicians is “trying to force the government in London to talk to Hamas”.

This pressure to treat Hamas as just another political faction assorts oddly, I think, with this story in the news this morning:

Israel’s outgoing government will not be able to win freedom for a soldier held in Gaza for nearly three years, Israeli officials and the soldier’s father indicated Tuesday, after the Cabinet heard a discouraging report on the failed talks with Hamas in Cairo. …

“The prime minister was prepared to make far-reaching concessions, far beyond what some of the ministers were willing to do,” Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann told reporters after the meeting. “Hamas’ demands reached proportions that no Israeli government could accept.”

In case you’ve forgotten–it’s been a while–Gilad Shalit was a 19-year-old Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas in June 2006. Hamas

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