Outside editorials: Time to talk peace

Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2007

The idea was laudable. No direct U.S. or international aid should go to any Palestinian government that sanctions terrorism and that does not recognize Israel's right to exist.

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So when Hamas, dedicated to Israel's destruction, through elections forced a coalition government in partnership with the more rational Fatah, that aid had to cease.

Last week came the division of the nascent Palestinian state. Hamas in fierce fighting won Gaza; Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah retains the West Bank.

That original notion is still valid, but even more so is its converse. Abbas' new government, sans Hamas, deserves U.S. and international aid. Both the United States and the European Union have indicated that aid will resume.

But it's also time for the United States to help reinvigorate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Abbas on Monday called for such talks.

Humanitarian aid must still find its way to Gaza. In the interim, start with Israeli-West Bank peace negotiations that also deal with the issue of Jewish settlements.

These talks are less a matter of benefiting from self-imposed divide and conquer as seizing an opportunity.

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