December 30th, 2008
09:10 AM ET
6 years ago

Obama should engage Hamas, former U.S. envoy says

 Barack Obama had high hopes for a peace deal when he visited Israel in July.
Barack Obama had high hopes for a peace deal when he visited Israel in July.

(CNN) - The former U.S. special envoy to the Middle East said Tuesday that President-elect Barack Obama should engage with Hamas under certain conditions, and sooner rather than later.

Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni said if Obama hopes to forge a peace deal, he needs to do it at the beginning of his administration.

"You make a commitment that no matter what happens, you'll stick with it," Zinni said on CNN's "American Morning." "We have enough agreements in principle that never worked out. I would say - start from the beginning, be determined, stick with it and don't repeat the mistakes of the past and the processes of the past that did not work."

In order for the new administration to engage with Hamas, Zinni said the militant group must be willing to end its rocket attacks and violence against Israel and commit to a peace process.

In the long term, Zinni said, the next administration will have to take a new approach in dealing with the problem.

"The old way of using envoys and summits and us putting plans on the table - that has never worked. I think we need a fresh start, more involved, a greater presence on the ground and a commitment to do it throughout the term of an administration," Zinni said.

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Israel
soundoff (193 Responses)
  1. Jim

    Apparently negotiating with terrorists is fine with some people

    December 30, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  2. Larry in Houston

    EW ...your talking about carrying a "big stick" ......we can't carry one anymore.....we are spread too thin.....(2 wars) not to mention that it's been going on since 2003.....and over 4000 lost lives.....and growing..

    If Putin wants to start a war with us, we won't be able to win one, with anyone, as a matter of fact....even if Iran would threaten us, we could not do anything about it.....we are too weak, as a nation....
    The united states is the most vulnerable during a transition period..
    between outgoing & incoming administrations.

    Houston, Texas

    December 30, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  3. Griff

    It is not the matter of how many rockets are fired into Israel... But from where??? Not Civilian, Roof-Top Dwellings. But thats what they are doing.... Rat's.....Vermin!

    December 30, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. Tomiwa

    I wonder why people of the world will continue to blame isreal no matter what. Is the hatred for Isreal that bad?! Any sane person who understand the palestine demograph will understand that what transpired there is simply unacceptable.

    Palestine has a legitimate govt, yet there exist a militant group, Hamas, that is extremely popular and act unilaterally on its own regardless what the people and govt of palestine think. Hamas started this war, and it is common knowledge that they have their base within the civilian population thus providing human shield for any attack. Why is UN and govts of the world address this. If you have your base with civilian population you cannot engage in any aggression against other nations because of consequences of reprisal attacks which the palestinian people are currently suffering.

    Hamas role in palestinian politics is dangerous to Palestine and the whole of middle east. That is what should be addressed. How can a legitimate govt of a country, allow a milltitant group to do as they like and will rather blame another country when they suffer from excesses of such militant group. All these beat me.

    December 30, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. Lyndon from CA

    Obama to Hammas: Recognize Israel's right to exist as a legitimate state, then we talk.

    December 30, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. aware

    PEBO needs the balls of Blago but he is an equivocator! :(

    December 30, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Pat

    David Goldman December 30th, 2008 12:05 pm ET
    PEBO HAS DONE MORE FOR THIS COUNTRY SINCE HE GOT ELECTED . . .
    ____________________

    Like WHAT, David Goldman/Dr. Mimi De La Cruz/Venus - ??????????

    December 30, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. Sensible Cape Coral FL

    Gee GRIFF:
    I know that we have freedom of speech in this country but that is not the same as STUPIDITY of SPEECH.

    December 30, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  9. JJ12343

    David Goldman December 30th, 2008 12:05 pm ET

    PEBO HAS DONE MORE FOR THIS COUNTRY

    SINCE HE GOT ELECTED THAN THE GUY SITTING

    IN THE WHITE HOUSE FOR THE PAST 8 YEARS.

    HOWEVER THERE IS A LIMIT TO WHAT HE CAN

    DO UNTIL HE IS SWORE IN.
    ________________________________________________
    You are an idiot

    December 30, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. antillian

    About the 200 to 300 hundred rockets shot into Israel over the last 2 years did any of you wisecracks actually check how many Israelis died?........3 yes realy just 3 thats it! Now compare to the now 4 day bombings on Palestine 350+ have already left the planet. Before anybody comments on that "they were all terrorists" News channels all over the world state that only 15% were actually Hamas card carriers. That means that the rest were civs. I might be probably ignorant for all the muslim haters, but if a kid in my neighbourhood trew a rock at another neigbourhood and that entire neighbourhood came over the lines and burned and bombed my neigbourhood.....I would call that barbaric no matter how self rightous you might think you are

    December 30, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  11. Joe Fattal

    What in the name of God Israel has accomplished the last 4 days. They killed over 400 palestinians, disrupted the whole world, and still they haven't finish the job. If Israel wants to go after Hamas, they need to go to them. Pick them one at a time, gather all of them and bring them back to Israel, and there put them in jail. They like roaches, if you smoke them out, they'll hide and come back later. You have to step on them. I don't think Israel has learned its lesson when they were in lebanon. Their air force did a terrific job, but as soon as they send the army, there they had their casualties. All these people dead for nothing. They have the weapons , but no brains. They trigger happy, you can say about them.

    December 30, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. Julia

    Hey Obama I am waiting on my check! My mortgage payment it due and I need gas in my car.

    December 30, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. James

    hamas will not stop until Israel is destroyed. Israel should relocate them all out of Gaza. Also force the rest of the Palestinians into Syria. The Jews have so little land as it is….. give them their country!

    December 30, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  14. SMR

    This middle east fighting between countries remind me of our fighting between RED and BLUE, DEMOCRAT and REPUBLICAN. These problems have been going on for too long and need to be resolved for the better of ALL. I have been part of it at times and I AM SORRY. We as Americans need to join hand and some how meet in the middle!!! OUR COUNTRY IS IN DIRE NEED FOR UNITY NOW MORE THAN EVER. PLEASE HAVE RESTRAINT IN ATTACKING OTHER PEOPLES POINT OF VIEW. The past is the past, lets move forward now and bring OUR COUNTRY BACK TO GREATNESS. GOD BLESS ALL :)

    December 30, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  15. dittohead with forty names

    Obama will make the right choices.Guess who Richard Rohde, really is?Could it be Anne Coulter hiding behind that screen?I laugh at these names she comes up with.She has been a blogging freak all her childhood.

    December 30, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  16. obama/biden supporter

    everybody needs to look at history. Ally or not Israel has systematically moved into palestinian areas and cleared them out. The Jews are doing to the Palestinians exactly what the Germans did to them. Racially cleansing the area to make more room for themselves.

    Palestinians have every right to demand their territory back. I do not think commiting acts of terror is right – but I cant blame them for wanting what is theirs back.

    This problem was caused by the US and others that decided to create Israel as a state within Palestinian territory. Just like Charlie Wilson and his war helped to create Al Quaeda to fight off the Russians.

    looks like whatever we do comes back to bite us. maybe we should learn from this and just stay out of things in the future.

    December 30, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  17. TRUTH

    I think sending the humanitarian will help HAMAS and their SUPPORTERS to fill up their tummies and make them more stronger to lift up more ROCKETS .

    December 30, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  18. NY republican

    To Ted:Canada – Maybe it's time for oour Northern Neighbors to Cowboy-Up instead of sitting back and telling the U.S. how to do it.

    December 30, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
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