Elusive Ingredient: Hamas and the Peace Process
This essay argues that the significant shift in the political power balance in the occupied Palestinian territories toward the Islamists in recent years has major implications for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and must be taken into account if there is any chance for a successful resolution. The authors, who have first-hand involvement with conflict resolution and negotiations with Hamas, survey the movement’s evolution on the ground, its participation in cease-fire and intra-Palestinian talks to date, and its positions on power accommodation with the other Palestinian factions and on eventual participation in peace talks or governance. Attention is also paid to the role of external actors in the process and the ingredients of successful peacemaking. The authors conclude that current peace frameworks, by ignoring Hamas’s weight and its indications of readiness for political incorporation into peacemaking, are ignoring what could be the “elusive ingredient” for peace.
Beverley Milton-Edwards is the author of Islamic Politics in Palestine (I. B. Tauris, 1996) and Islam and Politics in the Contemporary World(Polity Press, 2004). She is currently director of the Center for the Study of Ethnic Conflict, Queens University, Belfast. Alastair Crooke is former security adviser to Javier Solana, the EU high representative and head of foreign and security policy. He was involved in the negotiations to end the spring 2002 siege of the Church of the Nativity as well as the Palestinian cease-fire talks of 2002 and 2003. He also was a staff member of the Mitchell Committee that inquired into the causes of the intifada. The views expressed in this article are personal and do not purport to reflect the views either of the EU or any other entity or person.