Jonathan Freedland concludes a piece in yesterday's Guardian by saying:
It's time to recognise reality and to follow the oldest advice in the diplomats' handbook: you don't make peace with your friends - you make peace with your enemies.It sounds neat but it isn't true. It is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition of making peace with others that they are your enemies. It is not a necessary condition because you can, speaking loosely, 'make peace' with a friend with whom you've fallen out without the two of you having become enemies for all that. It may be said that that doesn't count as 'making peace' in the sense that Jonathan intended, which presupposes a context of war, or at least violent conflict between states, peoples, organizations. It is, in that case, not a sufficient condition of making peace with them that you are faced with enemies. You can make peace with them, obviously. But there may be circumstances in which you judge it best not to. One such circumstance would be that they have the declared aim of destroying you, an aim they are unwilling to let go of. It may still be in your interests to deal with such an enemy, in the sense of talking to them, but this then is an exclusively tactical issue to be judged in the light of what you think best serves your own aims. You don't owe it to such an enemy to make peace with them.
People speak as if the fact that Hamas was elected creates an obligation of this sort. But nothing of the kind follows. As I argued shortly after its electoral success early last year, recognition of Hamas's democratic legitimacy doesn't entail anything whatsoever in the way of approving its political postures. It therefore doesn't entail that Israel should see it as a partner for negotiating a peace, so long as its aim is Israel's destruction.
Jonathan's argument is that for Israel to shun Hamas only makes the movement stronger: as between isolating it and engaging with it, the latter is the more sensible option. But this is something different from making peace. Israel is entitled to insist on its own recognition as a condition for that.