Cohen’s reasons for negotiating with Hammas. “The Hamas charter is vile,” Cohen admits, “but the breakthrough Oslo accords were negotiated in 1993, three years before the Palestine Liberation Organization revoked the annihilationist clauses in its charter. When Arafat and Rabin shook hands on the White House lawn, that destroy-Israel charter was intact. Things change through negotiation, not otherwise. If there are Taliban elements worth engaging, are there really no such elements in the broad movements that are Hamas and Hezbollah?”
If only I were an analyst, I would be exonerated from checking the facts, and I would be spared the embarrassment of finding that the Oslo accords were negotiated only after Arafat proclaimed, three years earlier, before the U.N. General Assembly in Geneva (Dec. 13, 1988) that the Palestinian National Council renounced “all types of terrorism” and had accepted resolutions 242 and 338 as a basis for negotiations (in truth, it did not, but the world heard what it yearned to hear).
As an analyst, I would not need to find out that things did not exactly change through those negotiations in the 1990s — the PLO, to this very day, has not amended the annihilationist clauses in its charter, as openly admitted by Farouq Kadoumi in an interview with a Jordanian newspaper (Al-Arab, April 22, 2004; see Benny Morris’ book “One State, Two States” for a detailed chronology).
On the contrary, an intractable Gordian knot has been created: Every Westerner now believes the charter is amended; every Palestinian says it is amended but believes it is not, and every Israeli knows what Palestinians believe. Not a healthy mindset for peace negotiations.