Although Hamas condemned the United States over the military operation that killed Osama bin Laden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday refused to rule out the terror group's inclusion in peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
One day after Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo, Clinton was asked if this closed the door on Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations for the foreseeable future. "Many steps" must be taken to implement the Fatah/Hamas accord, she said, and "we are going to be carefully assessing what this actually means" because "there are a number of different potential meanings to it." Clinton repeated the Obama Administration's call for Hamas to accept conditions that include recognizing Israel's right to exist and renouncing violence.
Hamas has continued to attack the United States for killing bin Laden. Its leader, Khaled Meshaal, demanded the West "recognize the atrocity of the American raid and the burial of [bin Laden's] body at sea."
Shortly after news of bin Laden's death was announced on Sunday, Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas regime in Gaza, said: "We condemn any killing of a holy warrior or of a Muslim and Arab person and we ask God to bestow his mercy upon him."
Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh writes that Hamas' public condemnation of bin Laden's killing means that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "could soon find himself in the same government with Al-Qaida supporters - a government that would, of course, rely on American and European taxpayer money."
American and European officials must make it clear to Abbas that his new partners in Hamas "should accept the two-state solution renounce violence and honor the Oslo Accords as a pre-condition for joining a unity government or running in an election," Abu Toameh writes.
Abbas must do this before going to the United Nations in September to demand recognition of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders. "If he fails to do so, and if the UN votes in favor of a state in September, the world could wake up one day to discover a Hamas-controlled state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," Abu Toameh writes.
Aaron David Miller, who advised six secretaries of state on Middle East peace negotiations dating back to the 1970s, believes the Hamas/Fatah agreement is likely to fail. "It's not clear how any real power sharing can work. These political rivals, with their bloody history, are now somehow supposed to establish a technocratic government, prepare for national elections and assume joint responsibility for security - even though they don't share any real trust or ideology," he writes.
Regarding "armed struggle" against Israel, "Hamas will have to abandon its violent political platform or risk putting Abbas into the position of having to condemn his governing partner," according to Miller. "The moment of truth is likely to come soon. It's almost inconceivable the Israel-Gaza border will be free of violence over the next six months, given the track record."
Read Miller's entire essay here. Read Abu Toameh's op-ed here.