THE PROSPECT of Israeli-Palestinian talks, reported in “Stakes are high in Mideast peace talks’’ (Page A1, Aug. 21), offers a glimmer of hope. However, talks are not enough. There have to be results. There are grounds for skepticism, especially as to Israeli willingness to do anything beyond talk. It is also unclear how a just and lasting peace can be reached without participation of Hamas.
Two ironies are pertinent. One is that Israel has set rigid preconditions for talks with Hamas — while demanding, and getting, talks with Mahmoud Abbas without preconditions, despite a negotiating history that made Palestinian insistence on preconditions understandable.
The second irony is that special Middle East envoy George Mitchell, the former US senator, cites Northern Ireland in relation to Middle East peace, without having invoked key lessons of that experience. Two of the preconditions demanded of Hamas are an overt renunciation of violence and recognition of the state of Israel. Such demands were not the way forward in Ulster. Negotiations there proceeded through cease-fires, and you will look in vain for overt Sinn Fein/IRA recognition of the Northern Ireland entity. Peace was achieved in Ireland de facto, and by acknowledging the needs and realities on the other side.
That is how lasting peace can be achieved in the Middle East.