Zinni: Obama should talk to Hamas

Dec. 30, 2008 at 1:13 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, says Barack Obama should engage Hamas and move quickly to broker a peace deal.

Zinni told CNN Tuesday that the U.S. president-elect would have the best shot at brokering a deal between Israel and Palestinian Arabs early in his administration, adding that while Obama should talk with the Palestinian militant group, he should do so cautiously.

"You make a commitment that no matter what happens, you'll stick with it," Zinni told CNN. "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."

Zinni said Hamas must be willing to end its rocket attacks against Israel and commit to a peace process for any negotiations to work. Israel has launched massive air attacks against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for the attacks since Saturday.

"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," he told the U.S. broadcaster.

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