The United States is sending a succession of envoys to engage with Hamas but lacks the bravery to talk to the Islamist movement openly, its leader, Khaled Meshal, said in an interview with the Guardian.
The claim that the US is engaging with a group it lists as a terrorist organisation will upset the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, whose security forces have locked up and allegedly tortured leading Hamas members in the West Bank..
But four years into Israel’s blockade of Gaza, the revelation could be seen as a sign that cracks are opening up in the western consensus that Hamas should remain isolated. Russia is a member of the Middle East Quartet, which demands recognition of the state of Israel as a precondition to a seat at the negotiating table.
Hamas says that recognising Israel was one of the Fatah leadership’s biggest mistakes, and resulted in 17 years of fruitless negotiation. Meshal predicted that the conditions, which he called a trap for the Quartet itself, would change.
Meshal said Barack Obama had made a brave speech in Cairo, but within months had retreated, with administration officials actively vetoing efforts to seek agreement between Fatah and Hamas on a national unity government. Citing senior Fatah sources, he claimed George Mitchell, the US negotiator, told the Palestinian Authority and Egypt that the US would cut off aid to the PA if it formed a national unity government with Hamas and the other militant Palestinian factions.
“Palestinian reconciliation is not on the table at the moment, because the priority for America is to resume the proximity talks. Mahmoud Abbas is better for America’s purpose without reconciliation, because he is weak and a deal with Hamas would strengthen the Palestinian position in the negotiation. America prefers a weak Palestinian negotiating party, because it believes this is the best chance for a deal with an intransigent [Israeli prime minister Binyamin] Netanyahu.” READ MORE: UK GUARDIAN