Gaza truce and Obama fuel talk of talking to Hamas

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Gaza truce and Obama fuel talk of talking to Hamas

Gaza truce and Obama fuel talk of talking to Hamas Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:54am GMT By Alastair Macdonald - Analysis

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - War ends in the Gaza Strip, a new U.S. president is sworn in, and suddenly this week there is new talk about talks between sworn enemies Israel and Hamas.

But talk may be as far as it goes. Neither the contenders in Israel's election nor Barack Obama seem to share a view that, with the Islamists blooded but unbowed in Gaza where people now require massive aid, Israel and its allies should end a boycott of Hamas in both Palestinians' interests and their own.

Seizing on signs that Europe, disturbed by killing and poverty in Gaza and emboldened by change in Washington, might reconsider its ban on contact with the Palestinian Islamists, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal claimed "victory" and said on Wednesday: "I tell European nations ... it is time for you to deal with Hamas."

It is a sentiment that is finding some echo elsewhere, even if a dramatic front-page appeal by leading Israeli writer David Grossman in Haaretz newspaper remains a marginal view in Israel:

"Instead of ignoring Hamas ... we would do better to take advantage of the new reality that has been created by beginning a dialogue with them immediately," he wrote in Tuesday's piece.

Only dialogue could avert mutual destruction, Grossman said.

Hamas rejects talks that would imply recognition of Israel, though does not rule out all contact. Unlike other Palestinian groups, it has not accepted Israel and wants all its territory, but Hamas leaders have also offered Israel a "long-term truce."

At a meeting on Wednesday with Israeli officials, EU foreign ministers were asked if they should now speak directly to Hamas. Finland's Alexander Stubb said cautiously: "It is time to start slowly reflecting how we get all parties round the table."  Continued...

Yah ... so maybe Canada better get its act together, and be part of a solution instead of part of the problem, eh?