Dialoguing with the Enemy

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - There seems to be two opposing approaches on the most productive way to deal with governments that either openly or secretly align themselves with terror groups -- one says sit down and talk and the other says "maybe not."

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter believes that dialogue is key to resolving issues, hence his willingness to meet with Hamas officials in Cairo Thursday and exiled Hamas politburo Khaled Mashaal in Damascus on Friday.

Hamas officials are delighted that he's coming, as they are each time an international figure is willing to meet with them. The fact that they advocate Israel's future demise is irrelevant. They want to be recognized by the world community as a legitimate political entity.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, also adhere to negotiating as a means of working through differences, albeit with certain parameters. For example, they will not meet with Hamas, the more popular of the two Palestinian factions, coming up on the one-year anniversary of its military coup in the Gaza Strip.

While U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice won't openly dialogue with Hamas, if they achieve their vision of an independent Palestinian state carved out of Israel, it's possible the next U.S. administration will be sitting down with this terror-advocating group.

Both Democratic presidential hopefuls, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, say they won't have a problem with that, just as neither would object to sitting down with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Syrian President Bashar Assad, or other like-minded leaders.

Meanwhile, Olmert continues to meet with Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, though substantial evidence exists of PA ministers aligning themselves with groups that legitimize "armed resistance," a euphemism for terror attacks, against the "Zionist occupiers."

This past week, Livni led a 23-member Israeli delegation to the Eighth Annual Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade in Qatar in an effort to break down barriers with neighboring Arab countries.

While Livni had the opportunity to state Israel's case, as she sees it, before the forum, the response was less than positive.

Lebanon, Syria and Iran, which boycotted the event, released statements to the press.

"The presence of the Zionist minister in Qatar is a spit in the face of all Arabs and Muslims, particularly the Palestinians," said one Lebanese parliamentarian. "The Qataris made a huge mistake by inviting a Zionist to the meeting," he said.

A spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry described Livni's presence at the predominantly Arab conference as a "violation of democracy," an interesting assessment coming from the Islamic republic.

The spokesman contended that Livni's visit "mocks Islamic values and will pave the way for further violation of Palestinian rights."

Others, such as Ahmed Tibi, a member of Israel's Knesset, seized the occasion to call Israel an apartheid state that makes a mockery of democracy - aligning himself with the Iranian spokesman's remarks.

During a recent visit to Israel, Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain told reporters that dialoguing with Hamas puzzled him.

"Someone is going to have to answer the question to me of how you're going to negotiate with an organization dedicated to your extinction," McCain said at a press conference in Sderot, the southern Israeli city that's borne the brunt of Kassam rocket attacks by Palestinians terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

The Jerusalem Post contributed to this article.

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Tzippe Barrow

Tzippe Barrow

CBN News - Jerusalem Bureau

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