Eclectic Grounds

conflicts and conversation

Posts Tagged ‘dialogue

“Talking to Hamas”: Israel’s paradoxical stance

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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.

Written by henrik

November 27, 2009 at 2:57 pm

On the idea that Hamas can be annihilated

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A great commentary by Israeli novelist A. B. Yehoshua at Project Syndicate:

They [the Palestinians] are our neighbors, and they will be our neighbors in the future. So, when we decide to fight a war against them, we have to consider very carefully the character of that war, its duration, and the effect of its violence. We Israelis have no power to extirpate the Hamas government from Gaza, much as we did not have the power to eliminate the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the voice of the Palestinian people’s national aspirations, or Hezbollah from Lebanon in the war of 2006.

Ariel Sharon and Menachem Begin went all the way to Beirut in the early 1980’s, paying a terrible and bloody price, to try to eliminate the PLO – a result that could never be obtained. And what happened? In the end, Sharon and then Binyamin Netanyahu both ended up sitting down at the negotiating table with Yassir Arafat and his representatives to try to reach an agreement. Now Arafat’s former deputy, Abu Mazen, is a frequent and welcome guest in our country.

We Israelis must begin to realize this simple fact: the Arabs are not metaphysical creatures, but human beings, and human beings have it within themselves to change. After all, we Israelis change our positions, mitigate our opinions, and open ourselves up to new ideas. So we would do well to get out of our heads as quickly as possible the illusion that we can somehow annihilate Hamas or eradicate them from the Gaza strip.

Instead, we have to work, with caution and good sense, to reach a reasonable and detailed agreement for a lasting ceasefire that has within it the perspective that Hamas can change. Such a change is possible and can be acted upon. Such fundamental changes of heart and mind have happened many times in the course of history.

Read the full text here.

Written by henrik

January 22, 2009 at 1:14 pm