A Matter of Timing
Israeli and Palestinian officials have announced a return to face to face negotiations. These talks will include the quartet, as well as special envoy Tony Blair. The invitation to resume talks was made by the Obama administration, and both Benyamin Netanyahu and Abu Mazen have agreed to resume talks without preconditions.
Ismail Haniya and Hamas have, predictably, shot down the effort, calling instead for a "National Unity" effort to help repair the breach within the PA, and bring Hamas and Fatah to some common ground. Though one may be hesitant to side with Hamas on any matter, it seems that any negotiation that takes would need to include the surety that efforts can be made to enact changes on the ground, in both Gaza and the West Bank. Unless there is reconciliation between the major Palestinian factions, there can be no implementation of a negotiated settlement. Either Abbas and Fatah want to enter into the talks just to see what Israel is offering, or they think they can win the next round of Parliamentary elections, and thus be able to ignore Hamas.
However, the other incongruent aspect of these negotiations is that they will take place with what is effectively one of the most Right-oriented governments in Israeli history. This is the government that right up until recently condoned and even encouraged the building of permanent settlements in East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank that are beyond the '67 line. Netanyahu's government is getting a huge break in being told they can enter talks with no preconditions, and though settlements will come up, as they always do, it will be a trifle to a government which has Avigdor Lieberman as its Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Secretary of State Clinton has been quoted as saying "the enemies of peace will keep trying to defeat us and derail these talks." While its not clear, one assumes she is talking about terrorists. I find it ironic, because frankly I don't think terrorism is a major issue here. Hamas is being basically marginalized by this process, and if anything these talks will embolden its militant wing, as well as the PIJ, to actually raise the stakes with violence in order to highlight the continued and daily oppression under which the Palestinians live.