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How to Make the Neocons Crazy About the Middle East: Tell Them the Truth

Hamas has long endorsed a two-state solution, but when the NY Times reported it, kooky neocon Charles Krauthammer went unhinged.

Old Charlie Krauthammer, the neocon who won't go away, is at it again.

Now he's hammering at an old favorite target -- the Hamas party and its political leader, Khaled Meshal -- and its new accomplice, that scurrilously liberal newspaper, the New York Times.

The Times' latest moral fault (according to Krauthammer) was to send two of its top Middle East reporters to interview Meshal and then actually report some of what he said (though the five-hour interview was boiled down to a brief article and a handful of quotes). "Hamas Says It Grounded Rockets," the Times headline announced; Meshal explained that firing rockets from Gaza is not now a useful strategy for pursuing Hamas' goals.

But for Krauthammer the important news is Meshal's endorsement of a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state only in the West Bank and Gaza, currently occupied by Israel. "We are with a state on the 1967 borders, based on a long-term truce," Meshal said. Asked what "long-term" meant, he said, "10 years."

Actually, that's not really news. Hamas leaders have been saying for several years now that they want a two-state solution and a 10-year truce, as everyone who follows the issue closely knows very well.

What's new is that the oh-so-influential New York Times is willing to bring Meshal's message to a much larger public and thus give it legitimacy for the masses in the U.S. -- which is precisely what has Krauthammer unnerved.

How does this message square with the infamous Hamas Charter that calls for the elimination of the state of Israel? Although Meshal still insisted that "he would not recognize Israel … he urged outsiders to ignore the Hamas charter," saying that it's 20 years old and, "we are shaped by our experiences."

In other words, times change even if charters don't; watch what we do now, not what we said years ago. Let us negotiate the 10-year truce and live in peace alongside Israel.

Aha, cries Krauthammer; there's the wily devil's trick: "After a decade of Hamas arming itself within a Palestinian state that narrows Israel to 8 miles wide -- Hamas restarts the war against a country it remains pledged to eradicate." And how do we know that's their diabolical plan? "The Palestinians" -- apparently a monolithic bloc like the Borg -- "have never accepted the idea of living side by side with a Jewish state."

For his "proof," Krauthammer points to the famous negotiations that President Bill Clinton convened at Camp David in 2000, between Israeli Prime Minister (now defense minister) Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat.

"No Israeli government would turn down a two-state solution in which the Palestinians accepted territorial compromise and genuine peace with a Jewish state," Krauthammer claims. "Barak offered precisely such a deal in 2000. … The Palestinian response (for those who have forgotten) was: No."

Actually, it's Krauthammer -- and all the AIPAC-ites so loudly supporting Israel's hard-line government -- who have conveniently forgotten the essential facts.

Actually, the Palestinians' response in 2000 was, "Let's keep talking." A year later, when agreement was closer at hand, it was Barak who pulled the plug on the talks. He turned down precisely a two-state solution in which the Palestinians accepted territorial compromise and genuine peace with a Jewish state. 

And several times since, when Palestinians were close to uniting around a similar peace proposal, the Israeli government has managed to torpedo the process -- just as it largely ignored the ground-breaking Arab League peace initiative of 2002. 

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