Interesting press briefing by the indefatigable Geroge Mitchell: Instead of emphatically stating that Hamas has no role to play in the peace process (is he did in his last press briefing), Mitchell explained that while he does not expect Hamas to participate in this immediate process, he would “welcome the full participation by Hamas and all relevant parties once they comply with the basic requirements of democracy and nonviolence that are, of course, a prerequisite to engage in these serious types of discussions.”
Also, putting to rest the misconception that back in Northern Ireland Mitchell had included the Sinn Fein/IRA in the peace process without preconditions (and should therefore do so with Hamas), the Senator stated:
The reality is that in Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin, the political party that is affiliated with the IRA, did not enter the negotiations until after 15 months had elapsed in the negotiations, and only then because they met two central conditions that had been established. The first was a ceasefire, and the second was a publicly stated commitment to what came to be known as the Mitchell Principles because I was the chairman of the commission that established them. And those commitments included — I’ll just quote briefly from them — a commitment to democratic and exclusively peaceful means of resolving political issues; a commitment to renounce for themselves and to oppose any efforts by others to use force or threaten to use force to influence the course or the outcome of the negotiations; and finally a commitment to agree to abide by the terms of any agreement reached in negotiations and to resort to democratic and exclusively peaceful methods in trying to alter any aspect of that outcome with which they may disagree. So there are analogous — not identical and not directly comparable — conditions that have been set forth by the Quartet with respect to Hamas. And if there is movement to accept those principles, as occurred with Sinn Féin and the IRA in Northern Ireland, why then, of course, they would be welcome. And we would want them to participate in those circumstances. So I want to make clear in that regard what our position is.
For an interesting analysis of the family resemblance – or lack there of – between the Northern Ireland and Israeli-Palestinian case, click here.