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It Doesn’t Take Columbo to Figure This Out

Alana, the State Department has released a transcript of Secretary of State Clinton’s remarks earlier today in Italy. She was asked whether the Fatah-Hamas agreement closes the door on peace talks with Israel and at what point the U.S. reconsiders aid to the Palestinian Authority. Here is the text of her response:

[W]e are waiting to see the details. We obviously are aware of the announcement in Cairo yesterday. There are many steps that have yet to be undertaken in order to implement the agreement. And we are going to be carefully assessing what this actually means, because there are a number of different potential meanings to it, both on paper and in practice.

We’ve made it very clear that we cannot support any government that consists of Hamas unless and until Hamas adopts the Quartet principles. And the Quartet principles have been well known to everyone for a number of years. So we’re going to wait and make our assessment as we actually see what unfolds from this moment on. [Emphasis added].

Earlier today, New York Times reporter Ethan Bronner held a 30-minute interview with Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader. Bronner’s report may assist Secretary Clinton in her assessment: 

“The whole world knows what Hamas thinks and what our principles are,” Mr. Meshal said in an interview in his Cairo hotel suite.” . . .  

He defined [the common national agenda] as “a Palestinian state in the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital, without any settlements or settlers, not an inch of land swaps and respecting the right of return” of Palestinian refugees to Israel itself.

Asked if a deal honoring those principles would produce an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mr. Meshal said, “I don’t want to talk about that.”

If she needs more information to complete her assessment, Clinton might ask for a copy of the annexes to the Fatah-Hamas agreement. According to Bronner’s report: 

Asked what had changed in recent months that allowed the long-delayed pact to go through, he said that both Fatah and the new Egyptian government had agreed, for the first time, to Hamas’s adding annexes to the agreement reflecting its views. He declined to elaborate on the contents of those additional items.

Perhaps the famously “transparent” Palestinian Authority should publish the annex, so we can determine for ourselves if there are a number of different meanings to it.

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