A must-read, wise rebuttal from ex-Israeli FM Shlomo Ben-Ami to all those arguing that we should continue to freeze Hamas out of the political process and deal similarly with all political Islamists.
Ben-Ami exposes the key flaw in the argument of those who claim that the Mecca Agreement and Palestinian National Unity Government has set back a nascent peace process.
Actually, with Hamas now prospectively inside that process - the chances of success could increase if Israel and the United States open their eyes to the formula that is on the table.
PA and PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas is authorized to negotiate a political agreement with Israel. Any such deal agreed would then have to be accepted in a Palestinian referendum or PLO vote, the result of which Hamas would respect. So, if we put this to the test, there can be a negotiated resolution that Hamas can accept, even if it does not support the details. That's the formula right now for a Palestinian negotiating partner.
Ben-Ami goes on to place Hamas and the need for engagement in the wider regional context of democratization and working with non-Al-Qaedist political Islamists.
Hamas' transition to parliamentary politics is part of a process many movements from the mainstream of fundamentalist Islam are undergoing today, as they seek to disassociate themselves from global jihad founded by Al-Qaida, and instead seek to integrate themselves in their country's political fabric. In Egypt, this is the direction being taken by the Muslim Brotherhood, and it is also that of Jordan's Islamic Action Front, of the Renaissance Party in Tunisia and of the Justice Development Party in Morocco.
This could be the approach in other places, too. In Morocco, Mohammed VI made it clear that he intends to forge "a historic compromise" with political Islam, given the possibility that the Justice and Development Party will be victorious in the country's June elections.
He is dead right. The stupidity of the neo-cons in proposing in parallel democratic opening and the inadmissability of the Muslim Brotherhood to the political process is devastating even by their low standards of logic.
We will need to discover how to cohabit a regional political environment with political Islamists. The alternative is unlikely to be our old clientilist friends - but, more likely, Al-Qaedist forces.
Read the entire Ben-Ami article Haaretz piece here.