Everyone has known for years that besides the charismatic Arafat, Hamas is the only popular force in Palestine. Yet everyone refused to negotiate with them. After they won the elections, they are invited to Russia, and even Israel treats Hamas as a governing party.

Yet nothing has changed so far. Hamas was popular and remains popular. It was anti-Israeli and remains so. It was a terrorist organization and still is.

When will we stop paying attention to the legal fiction of elections, sovereignty, and government in failed or extremely hostile states? If we find it necessary to talk to Hamas, we should have done that long ago, regardless of whether they joined the government or not. If, however, we object to negotiating with terrorists, then the fact of their being elected changes nothing.

Deal with enemies in terms of the balance of power, not of transient political circumstances.