“Talking to Hamas”: Israel’s paradoxical stance
From Gideon Levy, columnist for Haaretz:
Why is it permissible to talk to Hamas about the fate of one captive soldier and another several hundred prisoners, but forbidden to talk to them about the fate of two nations? Never has Israeli logic been so distorted. Now, when our hearts look forward to the deal’s implementation, when every human heart should look forward to Gilad Shalit’s release – and yes, to the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, some of them political prisoners for all intents and purposes, not just “terrorists with blood on their hands” – now is the time to finally rid ourselves of some of the foolish prohibitions we have imposed on ourselves and the entire international community. […]
Yes, we are conducting what we are denying to ourselves: negotiations with Hamas – and the sky hasn’t fallen. Whether direct or indirect, there are talks; whether or not we recognize Hamas, there are negotiations. For us, as usual, the method that should come first waits for last. Only after we try all the rest – killing and destruction, war and starvation – do we turn to the direct route: negotiations. […]
A free Gaza undergoing rehabilitation will be much less explosive. A Hamas busy rebuilding will behave differently, especially if it is also offered a political horizon. It will have much more to lose, something that is hard to say about Gaza today. So after we finish crossing our fingers for Shalit’s release, we have to open the same hand and reach out to Hamas in peace.