Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the Hamas party which currently is in control of Gaza indicated he is willing to sit down and discuss issues with President Abbas, the leader of Fatah. Several months ago, Hamas overthrew the Fatah led government in Gaza causing a break between the two Palestinian groups. Haniyeh said: “There is a serious improvement in Palestinian dialogue and we have agreed to hold talks with Fatah in one of the Arab capitals.” He also indicated Hamas control over Gaza was a “temporary” one and there was possibility of restoration of Fatah power.
A key aspect of any Palestinian-Israel agreement is engaging Hamas in dialogue and negotiation. For the first time in months, Hamas is ready to talk which presents an important opportunity for America to urge Israel to end its opposition towards interaction with Hamas until certain preconditions are met. The upcoming Bush sponsored Middle Eastern conference can only benefit by having Hamas in a setting in which Arab nations indicate they want an end to terrorism and a recognition of Israel in order to bring peace to the Middle East. An important issue is whether or not the Bush administration is willing to exert pressure on Israel.