Weighing In on America's Mideast Stance
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
In the Middle East, Israel fired missiles and sent tanks briefly in the Gaza today in the largest military action since Hamas took control there. Four Palestinians were killed. The Hamas takeover in Gaza has put the militant Islamist group center stage.
And NPR's senior news analyst Daniel Schorr, says it presents the U.S. with the new set of foreign policy problems.
DANIEL SCHORR: Here's a first, the two newspapers read by all official Washington, the New York Times and the Washington Post, today both carry op-ed page articles by Ahmed Yousef, spokesman for the militant Palestinian Hamas organization.
In the Times, Yousef talks of over 10-year truce with Israel. He asserts at the rival Fatah has caused the recent spate of violence by refusing to turn over power to elected Hamas representatives.
In the Post, Yousef urges the United States to engage with Hamas as the representative of the Palestinian people. Not bloodily likely, not as things stand anyway. With some evident discomfort, President Bush is being drawn into the Hamas-Fatah standoff. Yesterday, meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Mr. Bush agreed to a policy aimed at supporting President Mahmoud Abbas who has named a new cabinet for the Palestinian territory.
The president met last week in the White House with some 50 leaders of Jewish organizations. Nothing of what happened at that meeting has been disclosed. But it's believed that the Jewish leaders gave their support to a plan for Israel to release to Abbas the revenues frozen to keep them out of the hands of Hamas. Also, Israel has relented from his boycott of Gaza, at least enough to permit food and humanitarian aid to be shipped into the territory.
Israel was responding to the pressure of privation in this benighted strip on the Mediterranean. Hamas seems to be trying to live down its reputation as a terrorist organization devoted to the destruction of Israel. But so far, President Bush has shown no sign of interest in the Hamas overtures.
This is Daniel Schorr.
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