Sen. John McCain (R-Z) has criticized Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) by disingenuously claiming that he “approved” of negotiations with Hamas. “It is a grave and dangerous mistake for an American leader to meet with a terrorist organization like Hamas,” McCain claims. But in an op-ed today, James Rubin, a former State Department official under President Clinton, revealed that in a 2006 interview on Britain’s Sky News, McCain supported direct diplomacy with Hamas:
RUBIN: Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?
McCAIN: They’re the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so…but it’s a new reality in the Middle East.
Interviewed on CNN today, Rubin said McCain’s “180-degree flip flop” on negotiating with Hamas was at the “height of hypocrisy”:
RUBIN: This is the ultimate flip-flop in American politics. When he was in Davos amongst the European crowd…he was talking as if it were appropriate and natural and reasonable to negotiate with Hamas, the new government of the Palestinian territories. And then, two years later, he’s taking a very, very different position, saying anybody who wants to talk to them is somehow an equivalent to terrorists … It was he himself who was prepared to talk to Hamas two years ago.
“The old John McCain, it appears, was ready to do business with a Hamas-led government, Rubin wrote. CNN said it contacted McCain’s campaign for reaction to Rubin’s comments but said, “We have yet to hear back from them.”
The Huffington Post reports the McCain campaign’s response:
There should be no confusion, John McCain has always believed that serious engagement would require mandatory conditions and Hamas must change itself fundamentally — renounce violence, abandon its goal of eradicating Israel and accept a two state solution. John McCain’s position is clear and has always been clear, the President of the United States should not unconditionally meet with leaders of Iran, Hamas or Hezbollah. Barack Obama has made his position equally clear, and has pledged to meet unconditionally with Iran’s leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the leaders of other rogue regimes, which shows incredibly dangerous and weak judgment.