Via, Laura Rozen Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tells Fox News’ James Rosen that, while the U.S. still will not deal with Hamas unless they renounce violence, recognize Israel, and agree to abide by prior Palestinian Authority agreements, “what we are looking for is to separate out those who are, as we found in Iraq, part of an armed campaign for political reasons that can be reconcilable.”
The thinking [in Iraq] was, we need to separate out those who are there for reasons having to do with their own political and cultural and historic ties, as opposed to the hard core extremists and terrorists. [...]
So, what we’re attempting to do is to follow what turned out to be a smart strategy in Iraq and other places, with the same level of caution, the same level of skepticism, but understanding that we don’t do business with the terrorists, but we may do business with people who got swept up in some kind of move that doesn’t necessarily define their attitude toward the United States, or the use of violence.
This reminds me that, for all of their trumpeting about the success of the Iraq surge, conservatives have never been forced to admit how the strategy of reaching out to former insurgent elements in Iraq represented a complete refutation of the “war on terror” ideology that the Bush administration embraced after 9/11. Clearly, there are terrorist networks that seek to do Americans and our allies harm, but the idea that they represent anything like a united “Islamofascist” front against the West or an “axis of evil” necessitating “with us or against us” ultimata has rightly been cast into the ash heap of history.
It now appears that this understanding will be brought to bear upon U.S. policy toward the Palestinians. America’s highest ranking diplomat recognizes that, while Hamas’ stated intention of destroying the State of Israel remains completely unacceptable, there may be Palestinians who joined Hamas simply because they saw it as the most — or only — effective instrument for resisting Israel’s occupation and settlement project, toward the entirely legitimate goal of establishing a Palestinian state. It’s just smart policy to explore (cautiously, skeptically) whether those people can be brought into the political process, with the aim of isolating and disempowering more extremist elements. It’s a sad commentary on the state of the American political debate about Israel and Palestine that this represents a genuine breakthrough.