Should Hamas Be Part of the Negotiations?

My latest from The Daily Beast.

A few weeks ago, at a dinner with Yuli Tamir, Israel’s former minister of education and one of the founding members of Peace Now, I asked whether negotiations without Hamas can succeed. “Well, if negotiations do succeed—and I am highly skeptical they will—Hamas will feel tremendous pressure to make the necessary compromises, and join in the negotiations,” said Tamir. “They are a rational actor and, given their political position today, I don’t think they want to be seen as an absolute spoiler, should the negotiations produce real dividends.”

Tamir’s comment left me wondering: If we accept the view of Hamas as a serious and rational actor responsive to the needs of its people, why didn’t the Obama team find a creative way to include Hamas in the negotiations? After all, part of the reason for the deep skepticism surrounding the negotiations is that this round of talks looks and sounds like every other failed effort at peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, as Albert Einstein once quipped, then we may indeed be flirting with madness. The inclusion of Hamas would at least add some novelty to the political spectacle, a new element to that old equation.

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