U.S. 'Experts:' Talk to Iran, Hamas

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CBNNews.com - WASHINGTON - A report compiled by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Saban Center for Middle East Policy calls on U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to open dialogue with Iran and Hamas.

The report, authored by Martin Indyk and Richard N. Haass, among others, recommends direct negotiations with Iran, with no preconditions, and forming diplomatic relations with the Islamic state to further communication and understanding.

The authors also call on France, Germany and Britain to open formal nuclear negotiations with Iran.

According to Indyk and Haass, "Complicating this dilemma is Israel, which faces a perceived [SIC] existential threat and could decide to take matters into its own hands even before the United States has decided that the course of diplomacy has been exhausted."

The report also calls on the new US administration to support a Palestinian unity government, comprised of Fatah and Hamas.

"Washington should support reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas as a way to diminish the Islamists' incentive to undermine negotiations, forcing Hamas to either accept a peace agreement that addresses Palestinian rights or lose the support of the Palestinian public," the authors state.

"The aim should be less to 'reform' Hamas than to put in place political arrangements that are conducive to successful negotiations and that limit Hamas's incentives to be a spoiler."

The report further states that the new administration "drop its insistence that Hamas accept the Quartet's - United States, European Union, United Nation and Russia - recognition of Israel, renunciation of the armed struggle [terrorism] and adherence to previous Israeli-Palestinian Authority agreements."

Israel must "freeze the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and in the Jerusalem area. Critically, this freeze should halt the construction of new communities, outposts and 'thickening' of existing settlements, which often entails expropriation of additional Palestinian land," the authors state.

"In addition, Washington must urge Israel to allow Palestinians greater freedom of movement throughout the West Bank. In Gaza, provided the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas holds, the Israelis must permit a great flow of goods in and out of the territory," the authors conclude.

Source: YNet news

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