Some new, potentially hopeful news from Gaza. Haaretz reports that a deal may be taking shape between Palestinian kidnappers and Israel that would result in the freeing of IDF solider, Gilad Shalit. Here are the outlines of the deal:
According to the London-based publication [Al-Hayat], the Islamic militant group is now willing to free Shalit in return for the release of all Palestinian women detained in Israelis jails, estimated at some 100 prisoners, and a further 30 male inmates who have served terms of over 20 years.
Israel has tentatively agreed to the offer, the newspaper claimed, but has yet discussed when or how many prisoners it would release.
Haled Meshal met with a Turkish official and expressed his willingness to the said deal with Israel. The Damascus-based Hamas official warned the envoy, however, that though his organization preferred finding a diplomatic solution to the current crisis, his organization was ready to fight the IDF if provoked.
Several interesting things about this passage. First, the major role played, not by Egypt which had previously been a main mediator, but by Israeli ally, Turkey. Somehow Turkey seems to have maintained a relationship with both Syria and Hamas while also keeping company with Israel. Second, if this deal comes to pass it appears that Israel will have, at least indirectly been negotiating not only with Hamas, but with one of Hamas’ most hated, reviled leaders (at least in Israeli eyes), Khaled Meshal. Think of all the stupid rhetoric spewed by Olmert, Peretz, Livni and IDF spokespeople about how they won’t negotiate with terrorists, etc. etc. My problem isn’t that they DID negotiate with ‘terrorists’ but that they pretended that the very thought of it made them sick to their stomachs. Well, perhaps it DID make them sick to their stomachs. But not sick enough to walk away from the negotiation in disgust.
Further, this negotiation with Khaled Meshal puts the lie to Israel’s longstanding claim that it will never deal with Hamas since it is a terrorist organization, etc. In this instance, they clearly did deal with Hamas and the sky didn’t fall. Doesn’t this give the lie to that stupid, pointless policy which is so reminiscent of a prior Israeli policy from the 1970s NEVER to negotiate with the PLO. Of course they did just as they will have to negotiate with Hamas if/when there is ever to be a resolution of this horrible conflict, may it come soon and in our day.