As Israeli and Palestinian leaders prepare to meet later this month, the most immediate challenge for the United States is to help both sides deal with those who reject the withdrawal from Gaza and integration of the Islamists in the political process. Two years ago, when the Oslo process was faltering, the conventional wisdom was that Palestinians should use any means to confront Hamas, but Israel should avoid a confrontation with the settlers. Currently, the PLO has embarked on a power-sharing arrangement with Hamas and Tel Aviv saying “no” to the settlers and evacuating thousands.
Without Hamas, a large segment of the Palestinian population would be left in the sidelines, thus undermining the legitimacy of Palestinian institutions. Israel, for its part, can no longer treat with kid gloves a population which is incompatible with a two-state solution building settlements. In this regard, the United States should support the Palestinian Authority and Israel. However, if Hamas resumes the attacks, the Palestinian Authority and Israel should respond. Washington’s support will strengthen Ariel Sharon to confront the settlers, but the Israeli Prime Minister should stop supporting the settlements in the West Bank. Washington should adopt an economic and security policy to promote the suspension of settlements.
We are close to the two-state solution, and we must take this opportunity.

Daily Star (Lebanon)

To consolidate the truce, the U.S. must dialogue with Hamas”, by Scott Lasensky, Daily Star, June 28, 2005.