Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why Not Hamas?

The answer to Israel’s strategic dilemma may reside in Gaza.

Efraim Halevy
(Efraim Halevy is head of the Center for Strategic and Policy Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He served as head of the Mossad from 1998 to 2002, and he was national security adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2002-2003.)

Via Angry Arab

"Under the current circumstances—with the destructive gamesmanship of the Palestinian Authority and the stagnation in Gaza—the time has surely come to explore a new relationship with Hamas. Attempts to penalize the group with exclusion have failed; perhaps, the time has come for a strategy that co-opts Hamas....Right now, the decaying Palestinian administration in Ramallah doesn’t have the credibility to survive the rigors of negotiations, let alone the implementation of an agreement. Abu Mazen can only speak in the name of the West Bank, and recent events have shown that his mandate there is (at best) fragile....

Hamas has demonstrated a will and a capacity to think and act pragmatically when it believes it useful or necessary. There’s no better example of this than its governance of Gaza. Yes, it continues to play the role of peace-process spoiler when that role suits its interests. But Hamas has also demonstrated a serious capacity to exercise responsibility and restraint when that role suits its purposes. It has demonstrated its ability to control Gaza effectively, to both enforce a long-term cessation of hostilities....

...But the more that Hamas is permitted inside the tent, the better the prospects of a modest (yet historic) success. Of course, there will be those who say this is impossible. They will say Hamas is inhuman, and why would the Iranians ever allow this? The answer is that Fatah hardly behaves much better than Hamas. Besides, Fatah has limited ability to deliver any sort of peace without the consent of Hamas. As far as the Iranians go, once you start talking with Hamas, you soon discover how much they hate the guts of those renegade Shiites in Tehran....."

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