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Talk to Hamas now or fight new radicals indefinitely

Obama can't afford to let history repeat itself in the Middle East.

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History is repeating itself in the Palestinian territories. Washington refuses to engage a right-wing Palestinian group – and so spawns organizations that are even more extreme.

It happened in the 1980s, when the US balked at recognizing the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and hesitated to seek a resolution to the Middle East conflict through the creation of a Palestinian state. Those long delays helped propel the rise of the hard-line Islamist party Hamas.

Today, the lack of US dialogue with Hamas and the group's moderation are leading to the formation of new, more dangerous rejectionist groups.

If the US were serious about engaging Hamas, it would acknowledge three things:

1. By agreeing to accept a state in the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas is demonstrating de facto recognition of Israel.

2. Hamas has said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas can continue negotiations with Israel, and that it would abide by any peace agreement he signs if it is ratified by a referendum of the Palestinian people.

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