Powered by WebAds

Monday, May 19, 2008

Israel's talking to Hamas too

Well why shouldn't France talk to Hamas if Israel is doing it too? Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon - he who has trouble keeping his tongue in his mouth - admitted today that Israel has been talking directly with Hamas about a 'cease fire' and about the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Israel officially admitted to holding talks with Hamas for the first time on Monday, with Vice Premier Haim Ramon saying that "the negations we are conducting with Hamas are in direct defiance of the government's resolution, according to which Israel would agree to talk to the Islamist group only after it accepts the conditions set by the Quartet."

The Quartet - US, Russia, EU and the UN – demands that Hamas recognize Israel, renounce violence and ratify past agreements and the road Map.

Up until now the cabinet claimed that the talks on a possible ceasefire and on the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit have all been conducted with Egyptian mediation so as not to breach the 'political siege' imposed on Ismail Haniyeh's government, since Hamas' violent takeover of the Strip in July 2007.


Speaking at a Kadima faction meeting that focused on the situation in Gaza on the eve of a visit by Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to the country, Ramon said he opposed the policy employed by the so-called Kitchen Cabinet, which consists of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, which has conditioned Israel's agreement to a ceasefire on Shalit's return.

"In the discussions on Shalit's release, I represent the moderate position. The issue of the kidnapped soldier is a humanitarian one, and we are willing to pay a heavy price in order to resolve it but it should not be linked to the war on terror; it has nothing to do with the terror campaign that is being waged against from Gaza.

"People must realize that we are not fighting a terror organization, but rather the terror state of Hamastan," he added. "We cannot accept the existence of such a country along our southern border, just as Egypt does not accept this country on its northern border."

Ramon continued to say that "radical Islam's victory parade in Gaza must be stopped. I hope that next week we will reach a strategic decision stating that we refuse to accept Hamas state on our southern border. In such an event, the IDF will know what to do.
Pandora's box has just been opened. It's debatable whether the government is the bigger fool for opening it or Ramon is the bigger fool for pointing it out. If we're going to talk to Hamas, how can we expect anyone else not to talk to them?

Haaretz confirms this report.
A letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the details of which were revealed Friday, called for the indirect and secret talks with Hamas to be recognized. As for Israel's greatest concerns - that Hamas will use a lull in hostilities to rearm and that Egypt's promises to fight weapons smuggling bear no weight - the writers of the letter offered no solution.

Among the signatories' names, that of MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz) is to be expected. More surprising are the names of the former Shin Bet chief Ephraim Halevi, who has actually been calling for talks with Hamas in recent months, along with former chief of staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and Brigadier General (res.) Shmuel Zakai, a former Gaza Division commander. This is an attempt to provide a military stamp of approval to a step Israel has officially sworn it would not take. What was taboo two years ago is no longer.

It is Hamas that has not changed its position over the past two years, that has not accepted the Quartet's conditions, and has remained adamant not to recognize Israel and previous agreements, and not to renounce terror. The economic blockade has certainly strengthened Hamas' desire for a cease-fire. But make no mistake, a senior military figure said: "Hamas is not coming to negotiations because it is in decline. Its regime will not fall if the blockade continues."
This is the result of the timid response of the Olmert-Livni-Barak government to Hamas' rocket fire on the Western Negev. And if anyone thinks Hamas won't chalk this up as another 'victory,' you're in an alternate reality.


At 8:06 PM, Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

When I was a child (I won't say exactly how long ago that was, but you will be able to gather approximately), the PLO was consistently referred to as a terrorist group. In the news and so forth. If you asked somebody in America, "What is the PLO?" he would certainly have begun by saying, "Well, it's this terrorist group that..."

That all changed sometime when I wasn't paying very good attention, in the 90's, I guess, when suddenly the PLO came to be a quasi-governmental group in the West Bank and Arafat was treated as a quasi head of state. Of course, they never did anything that real governments do, like seeking the well-being of their citizens, maintaining the roads, or whatever. In fact, they continued to be a terrorist organization. We just forced Israel to make concessions to them and then to pretend that they were not a terrorist organization.

I kid you not, it was a while after the word "Fatah" started being used in the news in America before I found out that Fatah is the same organization as the PLO. Just a different name. Now, I realize that the different name had been around for a long time and was not invented for purposes of obfuscation. But I think the U.S. news does use it in an obfuscatory way--to treat Fatah as the "moderates."

With this precedent in place, the principle of not negotiating with terrorist organizations has become a joke for Israel. It was therefore just a matter of time before Hamas went through the same pretend metamorphosis. It probably won't even take as long.

At 2:23 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Hamas has not altered its position in the slightest while Israel has softened its stand towards the terrorist group. I can understand why Hamas won't moderate. If the Israelis are willing to make enormous concessions precisely for nothing, why should we change at all? Hamas in other words, is not being rewarded for displaying true moderation but for being obdurate in its Islamic radicalism.

At 4:30 AM, Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

Israel gives the other Palestinians something for nothing all the time. Why not Hamas?

I swear, I don't understand how your country has survived. It makes my blood boil on behalf of all the sensible people there. And it makes me ashamed of my own country which has pushed these crazy policies.


Post a Comment

<< Home