If this administration’s foreign policy has a hallmark, it is probably alienating friends while cozying up to enemies. Still, even in that context, Wednesday’s BuzzFeed headline, “The U.S. Has Been Speaking to Hamas Through Back Channels for More than Six Months,” is shocking.
It’s not speaking to Hamas itself that is so problematic – it is true that the U.S. government speaks to plenty of enemies and plenty of terrorists all the time. What is appalling, however, is that the US was, if the allegations are true, conducting secret talks to facilitate the formation of a unity government between Fatah and Hamas, at the very same time that it was publicly pressuring Israel to make more and more concessions in negotiations that the US was supposedly facilitating. Even more shocking, is that Secretary John Kerry sat before Congress and blamed the failure of the talks on a few apartments in a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, when it now appears that it was the US itself that was undermining those very talks.
If the allegations are true, it seems likely that the reason for the PA’s actions in applying to fifteen UN treaties, actions it must have known would signal the de facto end of the negotiations, was neither building in Jerusalem nor a delay in the release of prisoners. The reason, instead, was that the Fatah-dominated PA saw that the U.S. would sanction an alliance with Hamas, and it chose to throw its lot in with Hamas rather than make compromises with Israel.
The US has, of course, denied this report. But this version of events seems to explain why Hamas and Fatah were successful in setting up a unity government this time, when they were not successful in this endeavor in the past. It also explains why the US State Department spokesperson rushed to recognize this unity government. To many watching from within the US, moreover, this scandal-ridden administration does not have much credibility left.
This administration’s behavior with respect to its supposed ally Israel has been shockingly duplicitous.