Epic Fail: Peace Talks Without Hamas

Ali Abunimah has a terrific op-ed in the New York Times today on why the upcoming Israeli-Fatah negotiations are doomed to fail.

Actually, the very fact that a piece like this would appear in the Sunday Times is news in itself. Author Abunimah really broke through an iron wall when he got this column in the Times, on Sunday no less. (Abe Foxman is just one of the many Times readers who will spit out their breakfasts).

Abunimah takes on the analogy U.S. mediator George Mitchell makes (and I used to make, I admit) between U.S-sponsored Northern Ireland peace talks which succeeded and these talks which can't.

The main reason is that the United States supports Israel in its refusal to negotiate with Hamas (its main Palestinian adversary) while it it pushed the British to negotiate with the Irish equivalent of Hamas, the IRA (Sinn Fein).

Another reason is that the United States played honest broker rather than backing the stronger side (the British and their clients, the Irish Protestants). Also, there was no real equivalent of AIPAC which intimidates members of Congress into opposing any real negotiations and into supporting the Israeli hardliners. (It's as if the United States' was 100% down with the Protestant Unionists).

Also, the leading Irish politicians like Ted Kennedy were outspoken advocates for negotiating with the IRA. And for peace. (Short hand. The difference between the U.S. role in the two negotiations is the difference between Ted Kennedy and Chuck Schumer).

Bottom line: this week's negotiations are probably going nowhere because (1) Hamas is excluded and (2) the United States is in Netanyahu's pocket.

Abunimah really deserves a medal for spelling this out so sharply and effectively.