Fareed Zakaria is a preeminent foreign affairs analyst and hosts "Fareed Zakaria: GPS" on CNN at 1 p.m. ET Sunday. He spoke to CNN about the U.S. decision not to work with Hamas.
Fareed Zakaria says the efforts to isolate Hamas are instead strengthening fundamentalism.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- CNN: Why is the American decision not to work with Hamas such an issue in the Arab world?
Zakaria: The U.S. appears hypocritical to much of the Arab world. The U.S. has been trumpeting the importance of democracy to Arab countries world and has insisted on elections in Gaza. When Hamas, a faction they did not support, won, many Arabs felt the U.S. did not accept the victory and has attempted to strangle what they see as a burgeoning democracy.
CNN: How much of a difference does this make?
Zakaria: By the U.S. isolating Hamas from commerce and contact with the outside world, we are strengthening the forces of fundamentalism and extremism in Gaza. By all accounts, Hamas is stronger now than it was six months ago.
CNN: Do you expect any progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process restarted in Annapolis?
Zakaria: No. With President Bush's approval rating under 30 percent and Prime Minister Olmert's at under 3 percent and President Abbas' somewhere in the middle, they don't have the public support to accomplish this. They can sign a piece of paper, but it won't mean anything and won't have the political capital needed to accomplish anything substantive.
CNN: Is Israel doing the right thing by denying visas to Gaza's Fulbright scholars?
Zakaria: No, nor do many Israelis agree with the decision. The chairman of the Israeli Knesset Education Committee remarked, "Preventing students in Gaza from studying is reminiscent of a painful point in Jewish history. We are a nation that for years was prevented from studying; how can we do the same thing to another people? Trapping hundreds of students in Gaza is immoral and unwise."
CNN: Can the U.S. do much about it?
Zakaria: When I spoke with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for this week's show, she said the U.S. was unhappy with the decision and hoped it would be resolved. She noted that these students had been granted visas by the U.S. State Department. They had gone through an extensive clearance process to be granted those visas.
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