The Terror Journal

A Journal on Terrorism and Genocide

Obama and the Gaza crisis

Barack ObamaUS President-elect Barack Obama has signalled clearly that he intends to grapple with the problems of the Middle East from the outset of his presidency.

Richard Haass, head of the Council on Foreign Relations, underlined the point.

“What the Gaza crisis has done is to remind us – as if anyone really needed reminding – that the Middle East is not stable,” he said.

“And it won’t wait for the new administration to decide when it is ready to address it.”

But what can the Obama administration do differently?

‘Other ways’

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There has been a good deal of speculation – especially in the British press – about the possibility that the Obama team might take the unprecedented step of seeking direct talks with Hamas.

Everyone I have spoken to here rules this out – certainly unless Hamas renounces violence and meets a variety of other conditions.

But Robert Malley, head of the International Crisis Group’s Middle East programme, said: “This is not an on and off switch, where you either embrace Hamas or necessarily boycott it. There may be other ways.”

He spoke of his hope that the incoming Obama administration would “show some creativity in terms of allowing third parties to talk to Hamas and not trying to stand in their way”.

If, for example, there were to be a Palestinian national unity government encompassing Hamas members, he hoped that an Obama administration would “judge it by its behaviour and what it does on the ground”.

Does it adhere to its ceasefire? Does it allow the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organisation] chairman to negotiate an agreement with Israel? Does it say that it will allow that agreement to be put to a popular referendum and adhere to the results of that referendum?

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Source: By Jonathan Marcus BBC News

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