Palestinian factions have taken a huge step towards reconciliation today. The Associated Press is reporting that Hamas Supreme Leader Khaled Mashaal has agreed to join the executive board that oversees election as part of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO has been the main body involved with peace talks with Israel over the last 15 years.
Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by both the US and Israel, refuses to accept Israel’s right to exist and has sworn to never negotiate a peace treaty with the Jewish State.
Israeli Government Officials reacted with alarm at the reconciliation moves.
Hamas took over the Gaza Strip and has ruled the area ever since. Fatah, the dominant party in the PLO has ruled only the West Bank, which make peace talks difficult as the Palestinians do not speak with one voice. With this agreement that seems to be changing.
Elections of the PLO Parliament will take a few years to prepare for. The PLO represents all Palestinians, not just those living in the disputed territories. Elections for the PLO include those living in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and elsewhere.
In addition to the steps involving the PLO, the Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas has called for local elections to choose the Parliament in the territories. The last time elections were held in 2006, Hamas swept in a huge majority of legislators.
Israel has said in the past that they will not in anyway negotiate with Hamas. Hamas is responsible for killing thousands of Israelis through suicide bombings and have launched thousands of rocket into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip.
Should Israel negotiate with a group dedicated to its destruction?