Hamas in picture

FOLLOWING Alan Johnston’s release, much of the British left-leaning Press and a group of MPs are rightly coming round advocating serious re-engagement with Hamas. As pointed out in this space, the West’s total isolation of Hamas following its dismissal by Mahmoud Abbas and the breakdown of the Unity Government was riddled with complications that could in no way make progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Published: Fri 6 Jul 2007, 9:39 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:53 AM

For one thing, since sidelining Hamas amounted to practically ignoring the entire Gaza Strip where it held sway, it was natural for a bulk of the international Press to question motives behind the move. Furthermore, by quickly exhibiting profound influence within its jurisdiction – on top of an already proven electoral bank – Hamas has thrown the ball back into the West’s court with authority.

Now that the Press has raised serious debate on the matter, as is evident from the motion forwarded by the MPs, it will be interesting to see the response from those in power.

Prime Minister Gordon’s initial response to Johnston’s release did appreciate Hamas’ role, but fell short of adding political colour to the statement.

If Washington and London continue to simply ignore on-ground developments and keep up with their old theme-song, journalists and stakeholders alike will be vindicated in questioning their motives in the first place.

There is little disagreement that the present set-up whereby the West showers pats on Abbas’ back in the confines of the West Bank is simple not tenable, not even in the medium term.

There also ought to be little dispute that Hamas cannot be kept out of the Middle East equation, especially considering its vote bank and overwhelming presence in Gaza. The way forward must entail negotiations.

Giving an ear to all is central to the matter, especially if recent history has seen people acknowledge them with votes.

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