IPF-Bring Hamas in

The Israel Policy Forum urged the Bush administration to find a way to bring Hamas into talks to end violence.

“We are writing to urge you to continue and intensify your efforts to end the violence along the Israel-Gaza border and to help establish conditions that would enable” Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “to implement any agreements they have reached in their bilateral discussions,” said the letter sent Thursday from the pro-Israel group to Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state.

“This requires finding a way to bring Hamas into the process. While we share your concerns over direct engagement with Hamas, we believe that it is impossible to achieve an agreement on any of the key issues – including the release of Corporal Shalit – without engaging Hamas through some means, simply because Hamas is the governing authority in Gaza.”

The reference is to Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held captive in Gaza for almost two years.

Israel and the United States abjure direct talks with Hamas, a terrorist group that has driven moderates loyal to Abbas out of Gaza and that continues to enable rocket fire on Israel’s south. However, Israel and the United States are receptive to Egyptian attempts to broker a cease-fire with Hamas.

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