The ineffable Roger Cohen:

The 1988 Hamas Charter is vile, but I think it's wrong to get hung up on the prior recognition of Israel issue. Perhaps Hamas is sincere in its calls for Israel's disappearance -- although it has offered a decades-long truce -- but then it's also possible that Israel in reality has no desire to see a Palestinian state.

Perhaps Cohen would be served by reading their charter a little more closely. He also insists the U.S. "should initiate diplomatic contacts with the political wing of Hezbollah."

Abu Muqawama disagrees:

First off, who is this "political wing?" Does he mean Hizballah parliamentarians? If that's who he is talking about, then fine, I understand. The seven-man Shura Council, though, has operational control over both what Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh calls the "Political and Administrative Apparatus" as well as the "Military and Security Apparatus." So while there is a clear division of labor between Hizballah's activities in the government and its military activities, the command is more or less unified. (I have no idea how Hamas is set up, so someone feel free to jump in here.)

Second, why on Earth would Hizballah want to talk to us? What would they want from us?

Third, it would be one thing if the only thing Hizballah has ever said about armed resistance was said in the Open Letter of 1985, but Hizballah leaders have repeatedly and consistently defined the organization as an armed resistance movement first and foremost. What's more, this armed resistance is no longer tied into concrete territorial demands that we could conceivably help out with, such as the Shebaa Farms. So that complicates things, both for us in dealing with them and also for them as they try to figure out what the future of their party holds.

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