Obama, Carter and Meshaal: Campaign rhetoric v. policy

Alas, Barack Obama is apparently not reading South Jerusalem. If he were, perhaps his campaign would have responded to Jimmy Carter’s reported plans to meet Hamas leaders in Damascus with something a bit more sophisticated than this statement, carried by JTA (thanks to Ben Smith for the head’s up):

“Senator Obama does not agree with President Carter’s decision to go forward with this meeting because he does not support negotiations with Hamas until they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist and abide by past agreements,” the Obama campaign said. “As president, Obama will negotiate directly with the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.”

Yes, I understand the electoral logic. Carter, it seems, is nearly as unpopular among pro-Israel voters as Hamas is. Carter has hinted he supports Obama, and then he goes and does this. Obama wants to open up some distance between himself and Carter.

But from a policy perspective, this is a mistake. As I wrote here yesterday, the current administration’s policy toward Hamas has boomeranged.

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