Remember when Barack Obama sparred with Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary race over engaging with countries considered hostile to the United States? This is from a CNN report about a July 2007 debate during the primaries:
The question was a simple one but it elicited one of the few differences between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama so far in the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination: "Would you be willing to meet separately during the first year of your administration, with leaders of Syria, Iran, Venezuela and others to bridge the gap between our countries?"
Obama said he would be willing to have such meetings. "The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them – which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration – is ridiculous," explained Obama.
That sounds like a sensible policy. If only President Obama governed the same way candidate Obama said he would, then we might have had someone in the White House who included Hamas in discussions about the way forward in the Middle East. Hamas is an important player in Palestinian politics, and won free and fair elections in 2006 to represent the Palestinian people. Mahmoud Abbas’ emergency governing mandate has ended, and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was illegally appointed as Prime Minister by Abbas after the dissolution of the Fatah-Hamas governing coalition.
The Gaza government confirmed reports Monday that it had reached out to the US administration in written letters, denying, however, that notes were related to a ceasefire deal.
"The government sent a letter to US president Barack Obama a few months ago calling for an end to Israel’s siege and an end the double standards [America] employed while dealing with the Palestinian cause," de facto government spokesman Taher An-Nunu said via news release on Monday.
The comments followed a report in Hebrew language Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, which said de facto government Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh had written to Obama two weeks ago saying he was prepared "recognize Israel within the 1967 borders in exchange for a ceasefire agreement."
Don’t hold your breath for a response from the Obama administration. They’ve made clear that they will continue to support Israel’s policy of separating the West Bank and Gaza from each other and of propping up the Palestinian Authority and isolating Hamas.