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The (Narrow) Debate over the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

At Room for Debate, on the New York Times opinion pages, there’s a four-way exchange on this question: “can reconciliation between [the Palestinian factions] Fatah and Hamas end up improving the chances of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, which have dimmed as American-backed talks have foundered?”

The debate is worth reading, for a number of reasons. By implication, it exhibits what’s taken to be the spectrum of the debate. Of the four positions, one is actually refreshing because it injects a dose of reality about the character of Hamas and Fatah and casts doubt about the future of the Palestinian cause. However, the debate ought to be widened to consider the wisdom of engaging in diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinian factions.

Many are rightly horrified by the idea of sitting down to talk with Hamas, an Islamist terrorist group committed to overthrowing the Israeli regime. But its rival — possibly soon coalition partner — Fatah, a leading faction in the Palestinian Liberation Organization, has a bloody record as well. What steps would it have to take to redeem itself from those past atrocities? I’m not convinced that’s is even possible.