As far as I’m concerned this is a new way of thinking from Gershon Baskin. I do not recall his being so adamant that
Hamas is not, I repeat, is not a likely partner for peace negotiations. There are those on the “liberal left” for lack of a better word, die hards believing that the two-state solution is still viable, and those who have advocated negotiating or at least talking to Hamas. Baskin was one of those who persisted in back channel discussions with Hamas. Read this piece, (I’ve copied much of it below). Lilly
…. The division of the Palestinian house is more than just a struggle for power between opposing political parties. … It is most fundamentally a struggle over vision, worldview and political direction.
Abbas has stated clearly that he supports reconciliation but that it must take place on his terms. This refers to his demand that Hamas rescind the use of violence, thereby dropping the armed struggle …, that it adhere to agreements made between the PLO and Israel (meaning most particularly the continuation of security cooperation between Palestinian Authority forces and Israeli security forces) and that Hamas fully recognize Abbas’s right and determination to negotiate peace with Israel.
Hamas, particularly from the vantage point of newly reelected politburo leader Khaled Mashaal, seeks to merge Hamas into the PLO and eventually take over the body which is recognized world-wide as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
Initially, the merging of Hamas into the PLO would require Hamas to at least implicitly recognize Israel and the Oslo peace process and its agreements. All of the signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians have been between the government of Israel and the PLO representing the Palestinian people. According to Mashaal’s strategy this might be a tactical move in which swallowing the implicit recognition of Israel would be acceptable because after taking over the PLO he could have the movement nullify the agreements and the security arrangements with Israel.
During Mashaal’s historic visit to Gaza after Pillar of Defense in December 2012 he delivered one of the most extreme rhetorical attacks against Israel’s right to exist, and presented Hamas’ vision of a Palestinian Islamic republic from the River to the Sea. Several months before, Mashaal had appeared on CNN and expressed support for a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders.
After Mashaal’s visit, I phoned one of the Hamas leaders in Gaza and asked: Which was the real Khaled Mashaal – Gaza or CNN? He responded that I should understand the context; his first visit to Gaza, the leader coming home to his country, etc. I responded that if Mashaal is a leader and really does support the vision he expressed on CNN then he would begin to lead his people away from the lie that they will defeat Israel and that Palestine will be built on the ruins of the Jewish state. I heard him on CNN and I heard him in Gaza. He was more convincing in Gaza.
I DO not believe that reconciliation between the PLO and Hamas is possible. Or rather, as long as there remains the possibility of an Israeli-Palestinian negotiated peace agreement there is little real possibility for real reconciliation between those two Palestinian movements. …
Palestinian public opinion polls and research demonstrate that Hamas has only minority support. The Hamas victory in the 2006 elections was technical (due to the electoral system) – Hamas has never had a majority of support inside of Palestine and not even within Gaza.
While a clear majority of Palestinians support the idea of reconciliation, the conceptual framework that they have is a situation where Hamas is no longer Hamas, in terms of ideology, …. This is simply unrealistic. Until now, Hamas has not been willing to compromise on its ideology, particularly refusing to completely forgo the armed struggle. Hamas is not willing to allow the Ramallah security forces to retake their positions in Gaza and their authority over the Hamas military forces. Newly re-elected Hamas leader Maashal, however, is repeating his call for support for a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders and has once again begin to talk about non-violent resistance. … If Hamas is moving towards the PLO position, then reconciliation may be possible, but without these fundamental changes, there is no real possibility for unification.
… The Palestinian state will include the West Bank and Gaza – but it will only be implemented in Gaza when the regime that rules there accepts the terms of the agreement. …
Gershon Baskin has always believed in talking to Hamas, and even indicates a phone contact with a Hamasnik in this column. But I think he’s always understood that real peace negotiations (as opposed to local security or prisoner swap issues) must be with Abbas or whoever heads the PLO, which is the internationally-recognized Palestinian negotiating partner. It is this that Baskin emphasizes here.