IN OTHER WORDS: Hamas factor

Russian President Putin caught his international partners by surprise when he declared his readiness ‘’to invite Hamas authorities to Moscow to hold talks.” The invitation appeared to depart from the position Russia, just taken along with the other members of the Quartet for Mideast peace — EU, US and UN.

His invitation to Hamas need not be a setback for the hopes Quartet members have invested in their road map. He is merely acknowledging a political fact that Quartet members, Israel, and the rest of the world must now confront. For Hamas leaders to meet the needs and expectations of Palestinians, they will have to obtain cooperation and economic assistance from abroad. It is an open secret they are counting on Russia and China to help them get around demands coming not only from Quartet members and Israel, but from Jordan and Egypt as well. There is nothing harmful in Putin’s opening of a dialogue with Hamas — unless he tells Hamas leaders that they will have to accept existing Palestinian obligations under the road map.

Putin would be foolish to think that by courting Hamas he could somehow get Islamists around the world to stop thinking of him as the slaughterer of Chechen Muslims. To

be consistent Putin must insist that Hamas cannot go on blowing up cafes and hotels. — The Boston Globe