The best of times, the worst of times
Haaretz thinks that the past policy of formal cooperation with the Palestinian Authority has perforce moved into one of selective engagement -- at least until Hamas has shown its hand.
During this interregnum in the PA, it is impossible to guess which of the agreements it signed will be honored and which will not. Hamas has announced it will examine each one separately, and determine whether it serves the interests of the Palestinian people. Apparently, Hamas has decided not to honor the agreement according to which the suspected murderers of Rehavam Ze'evi were to remain in Jericho Prison. ...
Once the Hamas government in the making frames its policy, it will be possible to determine the direction in which the Palestinians are headed regarding its relations with Israel and other states. In the meantime, Hamas is sending out mixed messages through various spokesmen. If it wants, and is capable of, restoring quiet to its territories and preventing PFLP activists from burning down the British consulate, the group should do so.
Middle East Online describes efforts by the Russians to persuade Hamas not to reject the "roadmap" to peace.
Kalugin said earlier this week that Moscow would use the talks to press Hamas to change its position on Israel. "We will ask Hamas to change its position -- to recognise Israel, to reject terrorism and to implement all Palestinian agreements with Israel," he said after talks with the moderate Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas.
Asked how Hamas would respond to a demand from Moscow to commit itself to non-violence, Haniya said Israel also had to end its "aggressions" against the Palestinian people. "Hamas is not the problem; the problem is the occupation and the continuation of the policy of assassinations," he said. "He who calls for calm should put an end to aggressions."
Ha'aretz is in effect asking whether Hamas' accession to power represents a new administration or a revolution. Ordinarily a newly elected government is bound to honor the treaties and agreements entered into by its predecessors. But revolutions can choose to repudiate the ancien regime in its entirety. It discards the law and decides to live wholly outside it. Yet that freedom works both ways. If Hamas can pick and choose which agreements it wishes to honor -- then so can Israel -- and so can any of the parties which entered into agreements with the Palestinian Authority. The entire framework for Middle Eastern peace, if such a thing ever existed, will be put to the match once one of the parties decides to leave it.
If Hamas, has in effect overthrown the Palestinian Authority and nullified its acts, then the crisis gripping the region is not an international crisis but a domestic Palestinian crisis with international implications, not only for Israel but for Egypt and Jordan as well. Whether Russian diplomatic efforts can successfully turn a revolutionary-sounding Hamas into a legitimate successor government remains to be seen. In the end only the Palestinians can decide which of these two roads they want to take.