Americans for Peace Now reports that two of Israel’s leading dailies have independently called for the end of the failed Israeli boycott of the Palestinian Authority and engagement with the new national unity government. It’s probably to be expected that one of the sources for this news would be Haaretz, Israel’s leading liberal newspaper. Less predictable is the other, Yediot Achronot, largest of Israel’s dailies and quite a centrist publication. It has never, as far as I know, called for Israeli negotiations with Hamas:
Today’s editorial column in Yedioth Ahronoth…argues that the only “realistic option” is to talk to Hamas. Reviewing Israel’s options, the column notes that “one option is continue the current line: To give passionate speeches, pass more government resolutions for boycotting the Palestinian Authority—and mainly to pray.
To pray that all the European countries will not immediately follow in the footsteps of Norway and fully recognize Ismail Haniya ’s government, and that in the US election atmosphere, no serious presidential candidate in the US will allow himself to give up the Jewish vote and declare his willingness to engage with this government. The inevitable outcome of adopting this option: Overwhelming international recognition of Hamas as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and pushing Israel into a corner.
“The second option is military pressure on the Palestinians in order to cause the fall of the government…Now, after Israel has agreed to a cease-fire in Gaza without returning Gilad Shalit home, and after Abu Mazen has forged a loving alliance with Hamas, the military option is off the table.
“What remains is the third path, which is the only realistic course of action now: Launching a direct political dialogue with the incumbent Palestinian government. Briefly and simply: Negotiations with Hamas.”
And lest any hardline Zionist readers attempt to argue that this view is nevertheless still a minority one–not so. Polls show that nearly 60% of Israelis are also in favor of negotiating directly with Hamas. It is only the hardline Olmert government which attempts to hold fast to a failed policy well after it lost whatever usefulness it might’ve had, if it ever had any.
For several weeks, I’ve been predicting here the demise of the international boycott and Israel’s “Nyet” policy toward the Hamas led PA. When Israel’s leading news outlets join the chorus one hopes even a deaf mortally wounded (politically) prime minister will hear the call and abandon what never worked to begin with.
After the Arab League reaffirms its peace offer to Israel, pressure will be further ratcheted for peace negotiations. Some European countries will undoubtedly begin to renounce the boycott. Where will Olmert be then? Will he continue to embrace bankrupt inaction? Or will he finally do something?