Peace and respect for human rights cannot be brought to the region unless the international community intervenes to persuade, and if necessary, to compel both Israelis and Palestinians to seriously address the issues that stand in the way of an independent Palestinian state. The Quartet is the body chosen by the Security Council of the United Nations for this task. It cannot achieve anything unless it approaches both parties in a fair and even-handed manner. This requires it to treat both parties equally and to accord equal recognition and standing to both parties. The full recognition of the Palestinian Government of National Unity is therefore an indispensable requirement to further peace. This means the recognition of both Hamas and non-Hamas members of the Palestinian Government of National Unity. In order to prevent another season of violence and to protect human rights in the region, the Quartet must intervene immediately in a fair and even-handed manner.
I couldn't agree more. And to help the Quartet recognize Hamas for what it is and what it intends, here's a helpful hint from its supreme leader, Khaled Mashaal:
Khaled Mashal, the influential political leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, insists attacks on Israel will continue despite overwhelming Israeli retaliation that has cost scores of lives in the Gaza Strip in the past two weeks.
Speaking in Damascus yesterday he asserted it was the right of the Palestinians to resist "Zionist aggression" regardless of whether their actions were effective.
The continuing siege of the Palestinians would lead to an explosion that would affect the entire Middle East, he predicted.
"Under occupation people don't ask whether their means are effective in hurting the enemy," he told the Guardian in a rare interview at his heavily guarded offices, plastered with images of Jerusalem and "martyrs" killed by the Israelis.
"The occupiers always have the means to hurt the people they control. The Palestinians have only modest means, so they defend themselves however they can."
Good luck with that "persuasion and compulsion" thing, Prof. Dugard:
Problems have been compounded by the siege imposed on the Palestinian Authority by the US and EU after Hamas won democratic elections in 2005, Mr Mashal said.
"The siege is collective punishment, and a crime. And the crime is even worse after the Mecca agreement because Palestinians had expected the siege would be lifted.
"Now the international community is trying to undermine Hamas. That will lead to an explosion that will be in the face of the Israeli occupation. The damage will affect the stability of the entire region."
Mr Mashal rejected demands by the Quartet (the US, the EU, the UN and Russia) that Hamas accept three conditions - recognition of Israel, an end to violence and acceptance of previous peace agreements with Israel. These terms had been accepted by Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah leader and president of the Palestinian Authority, but that had not forced Israel to withdraw.
It was the Palestinians who needed recognition, not Israel, he said. It was a "pretext" to demand the amendment of the Hamas Charter, which says: "Israel will ... remain until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors." The charter calls the whole of Palestine an Islamic trust which cannot be given away to non-Muslims.
"What caused Sharon to leave Gaza, Barak to leave Lebanon in 2000? And look what's going on in Iraq where the greatest power in the world is facing confusion because of Iraqi resistance. Time is on the side of the Palestinian people. We are right, and our cause is just, despite the appeasement of Israel by most powerful members of the international community."
On the other hand, compare the statements of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who doesn't live under Syrian protection in Damascus but rather under Israeli pressure in Gaza:
In another development, Abbas met in Gaza City on Wednesday with Ismail Haniyeh and discussed with him the possibility of declaring a unilateral truce with Israel. The two also discussed ways of defusing tensions between Fatah and Hamas and preventing the collapse of the Hamas-led unity government.
This was Haniyeh's first appearance in public after reports that Israel was planning to liquidate Hamas leaders in response to the continued rocket attacks on Israel. Earlier this week Haniyeh stayed away from the weekly meeting of his cabinet out of fear for his life. A previous meeting between Abbas and Haniyeh was held at an undisclosed location and journalists were not invited for "security reasons."
Also Wednesday, Haniyeh met with members of the Egyptian security delegation who are based in the Gaza Strip. They discussed the proposed truce with Israel and the situation inside the Gaza Strip.
Haniyeh said after the meeting that his government was close to announcing a series of security measures to impose law and order in the Gaza Strip. He added that the measures include the appointment of new security commanders in the Gaza Strip.
Asked about the possibility of halting the Kassam rocket attacks, Haniyeh said: "We support a simultaneous, mutual and comprehensive cease-fire to protect the interests of the Palestinian people. The ball is now in the Israeli court."
By the way, it's pretty clear that Hamas recognizes Fatah, too:
The Hamas official, Said Siyam, also blamed "outside forces" of arming Fatah units, including the influential Presidential Guard, and of training its members to fight Hamas. He did not elaborate.
"They want to strengthen the presidential guard and the militias at the expense of Hamas ... They want to obliterate Hamas," said Siyam, a former Hamas interior minister.
Well, they say it takes one to know one.