(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.