Robert Rosenberg reports this interesting Israeli television interview with a former spymaster regarding what Israel’s position toward Hamas should be:
There are cracks in the Israeli establishment regarding how to deal with Hamas — former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy, for example, is arguing that Israel should judge Hamas by its deeds and not its rhetoric, and notes that so far, Hamas has indeed kept a ceasefire against Israel that has lasted more than a year.
Speaking to Channel One last night, he pointed out that it is mistaken to consider Hamas and even Hizbollah as part of the al Qaida network, since they are very territorial in outlook. Indeed, Hamas explicitly rejected expressions of support from bin Ladin, while Hizbollah, he says, appears on its way to being disarmed by political forces in Lebanon, which is going through a democratization process. Not that they are not implacable enemies, but ‘in the Middle East,’ said the man who served five Israeli prime ministers in the leading intelligence role, ‘the evil can become saints and the saints can become evil.’ In other words, he explained, ‘noting is permanent.’
Haaretz also publishes an AP story which characterizes Halevy as saying:
Israel should try to negotiate a long-term truce with Hamas…
“I think that now is not the right time for a permanent status agreement since it’s not possible because of the great hatred between the sides,” Halevy said.
“But if Hamas wants … a long-term armistice, there is a meeting between the (desire of) the two sides.”
Such an understanding could be the basis for future negotiations on interim borders between the two entities, Halevy said.
Just as in 1972, when it was illegal for Israelis to speak or negotiate with the PLO, I demonstrated in Jerusalem on behalf of just such an eventuality–so I predict that in a matter of months, perhaps a year, an Israeli government will be negotiating with Hamas. It’s not a question of if, but when.