Question of Palestine home
"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
United States of America
7 May 2008
Press Briefing by National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley on the President's Trip to the Middle East
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
Question: There really doesn't seem to be any progress, though, on negotiating with Hamas. So how do you believe that you can make forward progress if you can't somehow include them?
Mr. Hadley: Well, I think -- the President's theory, as you know, is that if the Palestinian Authority and the Israelis can come to agreement for a framework for a two-state solution and for the outlines of a Palestinian State that will open the door for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. And at that point, President Abbas will be able to go to the people in Gaza and say, you have a choice: You can have the kind of life that you have under the oppression, really, of Hamas – and as we all know how difficult the situation is for a Palestinian in Gaza – or you can be part of a Palestinian State, which is what we want and what Palestinians want. And at that point, the people of Gaza will have a choice to make.
And in some sense, Hamas will have a choice to make. The door has been open to Hamas to become part of this process for peace. And the international community has made clear what they need to do. And it's a pretty simple formula: One, turn their back on terror. It is – the international community and everyone has said, rightly, you can't get a Palestinian State through the route of terror, because that only institutionalizes and justifies more terror. Secondly, Hamas has been told you need to recognize the right of Israel to exist. This is a peace process of a negotiation between representatives of Palestinians with Israelis. How can you participate in that process if you don't even acknowledge the right of the person across the table to exist? And finally, the international community said to Hamas, you need to accept the international agreements that have been a foundation for peace that have been reached to date between Israelis and Palestinians.
So the door has always been open to Hamas, but they have not walked through it. And of course, as you know, President Abbas has added one other thing, which is Hamas needs to walk back from the coup d'etat where they seized power in Gaza. So I would say to you, the door has been open to Hamas. They have to get -- become part of this process. They have refused to do so. The Palestinian Authority has decided to go forward and negotiate with Israel. They were doing so. When they reach an agreement – and it is our hope that they will do so by the end of this year – it is their hope, and, of course, we share it – that will be a moment of choice for Israelis and for Palestinians about what is the way forward for peace in the Middle East. And we think if a good and fair agreement – fair to Israelis and Palestinians – for a Palestinian State can be reached, we think that both Israelis and Palestinians will rally behind the prospect for peace that offers.”