(Reuters) - The Emir of Qatar embraced the Hamas leadership of Gaza on Tuesday with an official visit that broke the isolation of the Palestinian Islamist movement, to the dismay of Israel and rival, Western-backed Palestinian leaders.
Israel said it was "astounding" that Qatar, a U.S.-allied Gulf state whose oil and gas permit it to punch way above its diplomatic weight, would take sides in the Palestinian dispute and endorse Hamas, branded as terrorists in the West. The Emir had "thrown peace under the bus", an Israeli spokesman said.
But some analysts saw a daring move, aimed at rehabilitating Hamas in Western eyes in order to coax it into the peace camp at a time when the Arab Spring revolts, and civil war in Syria, have been reshaping power balances across the Middle East.
The Emir, who is rare among Arab rulers in having met senior Israeli officials, denounced Israel's policies and praised people in Gaza for standing up to it with "bare chests" - but he also urged rival Palestinian leaders to abandon their feuds.
"Isolation" does not fix the problem. It entrenches the problem. Did Isolation get rid of Saddam Hussein? no. Did isolation get rid of the Kim dynasty in Korea? nope. Did isolation end Castro's rule in Cuba? Nuh-uh. Did decades of isolation do anything to the PLO? Nope. Has six years of Isolation weakened Hamas at all? Not a bit.
Diplomacy is the only medicine, even if you have to talk to someone you don't like.