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What it means to talk with Hamas

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But the attempt to sideline Hamas has not worked. Hamas is no weaker for the cold-shoulder from diplomats, and, in fact, has been able to use the siege to deflect criticism of its policies in the Gaza Strip. The West Bank "moderates" dominated by Fatah have little to show for their negotiations with Israel; rather, the colonization of the occupied territories continues.

Consequently, the anti-Hamas united front is starting to crack. European politicians have been independently visiting Hamas leaders in Syria, and urging a rethink in the position of the so called Quartet of the US, the UN, the EU, and Russia. The appeals to Obama represent this shift in approach, reflective of both how the current policy has failed, and how engaging Hamas will be beneficial.

Ending the isolation of Hamas would strike a blow to hypocritical foreign policy – a small but important step toward changing the way the US and international community relate to Middle East politics. After Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman's success at the polls, Quartet envoy Tony Blair said that "We've got to work with whoever the Israeli people elect"– a courtesy not yet offered to the Palestinians.

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