Editor's note: This week, Fox News Opinion is pleased to feature exclusive excerpts from the new book by Mitchell Reiss, "Negotiating With Evil: When to Talk to Terrorists." The following excerpt is taken from the chapter in the book titled "Should Israel Talk to Hamas?"
The start of the latest round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (P.A.), with the Obama administration acting as nervous midwife, has caused many observers to ask if there should be a seat at the table for Hamas. After all, this thinking goes, how can Israel make peace with the Palestinian people if their elected representatives from Gaza are not included?
Israel does not refuse to talk to Hamas simply because it is a terrorist organization. It has talked with those it has considered terrorists and terrorist organizations in the past, such as Yasser Arafat and the PLO. But Hamas, supported by Syria and Iran, has been placed in a different category because it aims at the ultimate extinction of the Jewish State. Significantly, Israel only talked with Arafat and the PLO after they agreed to accept the existence of Israel, pledged to renounce violence and endorsed all relevant U.N. resolutions (meaning a two-state solution). Hamas has resolutely refused to modify what it considers a religiously sanctioned mission.
Further, if Israel were to negotiate with Hamas on the political issues that divide the two communities, it would deal a death blow to the Fatah-led PA. It would undermine the P.A.'s legitimacy and credibility as the sole representative of the Palestinian people and it would destroy any chance of Israel ever reaching a peace agreement with Mahmoud Abbas, the P.A. leader.
More broadly, engagement between Israel and Hamas would alarm many of Israel’s moderate Arab neighbors – Jordan and Egypt among them -- who would worry not only about undermining secular Palestinian nationalism, but also at the strengthening and legitimizing of religious Palestinian nationalism. Giving Hamas a place at the table would encourage other Islamic movements throughout the region that directly threaten the stability of many Arab states.
Not only does Israel have no desire to talk to Hamas, it also doesn’t need to. Few voices inside of Israel have called for engagement with Hamas. The costs of Hamas’s resistance have been manageable, especially after construction of the separation barrier reduced suicide attacks. There has also been no external pressure from the United States, Europe or the other Quartet members for Israel to negotiate or even meet with Hamas until Hamas recognizes Israel, renounces violence, and accepts all previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
Mitchell Reiss, is the author of the just published Open Road E-Riginal ebook, "Negotiating with Evil: When to Talk to Terrorists." For more information, click here.
View an interview with Reiss, click here.
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