Hamas’s Next Steps

Helena Cobban in the Boston Review:

On January 25, Palestinians went to the polls and, in an election supported by the United States and judged free and fair by observers, elected members of Hamas, a movement on the U.S. State Department’s terrorist-organization list, to 76 of the 132 parliamentary seats.

Six weeks after the election, I sat down separately with two of the key architects of the Hamas victory, Prime Minister–designate Ismail Haniyeh and Foreign Minister–designate Mahmoud Zahar, and with a dozen other Hamas leaders, activists, and supporters in Gaza and the West Bank. A main question in diplomatic circles has been how Hamas will respond to the “three demands” that the United States and its allies have placed on the new Palestinian government: that it recognize Israel’s right to exist; that it affirm its commitment to all international agreements concluded by its predecessor, the Fateh Party; and that it renounce violence. President George W. Bush and the leaders of the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia—the so-called Quartet that has sought since 2002 to manage Israeli–Palestinian diplomacy—stressed that they could not work diplomatically with the new Palestinian government if it did not meet these demands. The United States and the EU also threatened to withhold economic aid, and Israel threatened to block its provision.

More here.