The Jerusalem Post reports President Mahmoud Abbas who heads the Palestinian Authority has responded positively to Egyptian requests for a meeting with Hamas leaders. Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman has been discussing possible peace with leading members of Hamas as well as leaders of Fatah. The Pan-Arabic newspaper Asharq Alawasi says that Hamas is now ready to discuss ways of working with Abbas in order to end the discord between the two groups. A senior Israel official was reported to have said if Abbas seeks to negotiate with Hamas it would end Israeli attempts to cooperate with Fatah. In the meantime, the military Islamic Jihad group indicated it would not be bound by any agreements reached between Abbas and Israel.
The good news is Abbas is finally agreeing to meet with Hamas, the bad news is Israel’s refusal to involve Hamas in peace talks. There is no doubt Hamas has encouraged militant attacks on Israel, but refusing to negotiate will only result in further attacks. A major mistake of the Ehud Olmert government is taking a hard stand against negotiation because a group has a record of violence toward Israel. The Israeli government refuses to acknowledge its own record of violence toward Palestinians. The only hope for peace is negotiation between conflicting groups. Egypt’s effort to hold secret meetings between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo can only help lead to peace. The reported obstinate stand of Israel against including Hamas will damage possibilities of peace in the region.