The story here yesterday, or at any rate a core element of it, was that Israel and possibly the US wouldn't recognize the new Palestinian government so long as Hamas, which is part of that government, wouldn't recognize Israel. Not only symmetrical but reasonable, you might think. Not according to that great organ of British liberalism, the Guardian, one of whose editorial columns today concludes:
...until the boycott of Hamas is lifted, there cannot be serious progress toward a settlement.Not, be it noted, 'until the boycott of Hamas is lifted and Hamas recognizes the existence of Israel'. No, this is just a fact of the situation and one must live with it:
Israel and the United States insist on an explicit recognition of Israel and a permanent renunciation of violence.For every symmetry, an asymmetry. How utterly reasonable. Israel must recognize a movement that steadfastly refuses to recognize it. And for why? Maybe just because it's good to talk. The British government entered negotiations with the IRA. But Britain's existence and legitimacy were never at issue in these negotiations. A country whose very legitimacy and survival are put in question by one of the would-be negotiators is not under unilateral obligation to offer recognition to that very party.
These, they know full well, will not be forthcoming.
Talking is indeed good, but those with an influence in, or on, Hamas could do worse than to assimilate one of the principles of discourse ethics. The parties to the conversation must be presumed to share a common status as legitimate discussants with a voice that counts. One can no longer take it for granted that such a principle will be generally understood at the Guardian.