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What it means to talk with Hamas

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Originally, the rationale behind isolating Hamas (a social and political movement condemned by many in the West as a terrorist group) was to weaken the organization and force a change in policy vis-a-vis the armed struggle and Israel, while simultaneously supporting the Ramallah-based leadership of Mahmoud Abbas. The international boycott emerged in parallel with the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip that began post-Palestinian parliamentary elections in early 2006. The aim: Punish the civilian population into rethinking their choice, and make a Hamas government untenable.

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.

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