The very sensible and well-informed long-time CIA analyst Graham Fuller has an excellent new paper out on Hamas, here
His bottom line:
- Washington must abandon the fantasy that it can get “moderate” Palestinians to crush Hamas and proceed to accept what are unsatisfactory peace terms offered by Likud. The much-reviled Arafat could not do so, nor could Mahmud Abbas, the “moderate,” both of whom were exquisitely aware that Hamas represents the views of a large number of Palestinians who cannot be excluded or suppressed. The Western search for a “Palestinian Quisling” in effect, based on a one-sided reading of the problem, is doomed to failure. The West will have to engage in a much more measured and balanced approach with Hamas if any prospect of political progress is to take place.
In the end the Israeli occupation remains the central problem, from which all other problems—despair, rage, and terrorism—flow. We must start by treating the core of the problem and not its symptoms. If the trajectory of other democratically-based Islamist parties is any indicator, there are reasonable hopes that Hamas, given the chance, will continue its evolution towards hard-headed pragmatism, even while not yielding its bargaining cards for free in advance.
Can we assume wisdom and patience on the part of the United States, Israel and the Palestinians in this next stage? If it is forthcoming, Hamas just might offer a surprise—the most legitimate Palestinian force to eventually reach a de facto settlement with Israel.