No, they’re not talking officially through their governments. But they are talking via the media and what they have to say is interesting. As you will read below, the idea that the two sides are not talking is a fiction. In the article, Haaretz’s media critic discusses an interview with Israeli TV and the Hamas spokesperson, Ghazi Hamad. The idea that the two sides SHOULD NOT talk is almost criminal. The idea that the two sides will never talk is ridiculous. The sooner the better. Even after Hamas’ brutal performance in assuming violent control of Gaza, the idea that Israel and the U.S. can magically erase Hamas from the Palestinian polity is patently absurd.
Thanks to Sol Salbe for noting this Maariv story and to Mike Marshall of Occupation Magazine for translating it:
The Sane Face of Hamas
The Gilad Shalit recording (hear it), special broadcasts on Channel 2
Who said we’re not talking to Hamas? Here is Channel 2 speaking freely with a spokesman of the enemy, Ghazi Hamad, and in Hebrew, too. Arad Nir and Ehud Ya’ari posed pointed questions to him and he sounded courteous and conciliatory: “The recording of Gilad Shalit is a positive sign. There is here an opportunity and the option to arrive at a deal.” The whole interview projected a sense of sane practicality and put the official government taboo against negotiating with Hamas in a surrealistic and absurd light, as was reflected afterwards in the declaration of Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (“Israel cannot talk to Hamas, which is not willing to recognise or speak with it.”). Never did an Israeli minister, and one from the moderate wing at that, sound so irrelevant.
The patriotic national Channel 2 would not have broadcast Hamad if it had thought this would constitute a divergence from the national consensus. The very fact of the interview should be a signal to the government that its official position does not pass the test of logic. All Israel understands that if your enemy is holding somebody you need, you have no choice but to talk to him. No doubt there will be those who will complain to the Second Broadcasting Authority that Channel 2 (and afterwards Channel 10 as well) gave Hamas legitimacy, a human face and a podium from which to address the Israeli public over the head of the government. But the interview proved that within Hamas too there is a pragmatic element that is willing to do business to promote its interests. We should so lucky that Hezbollah were willing to release a recording of the two [other] captives without anything in return. In such a case we would be happy to watch an interview, manipulative though it may be, with a Hezbollah representative…
All the official and unofficial commentators agreed that the words of Gilad Shalit were dictated to him and were evidently read from a written text. All of them (except for Ehud Ya’ari in the middle edition) ignored one word that the soldier said at the end of the statement, of his own free will. He asked one of his captors: “did you get it?” [one word in Hebrew – trans.] On the many repeat broadcasts on Channel 2 the last word was even cut from the recording, as if it had no importance. That is strange, because in my eyes it is very important. He is confident enough to address the man in front of him to verify that the recording had been properly done (Ya’ari inferred from this that previous recordings had not turned out well). A frightened man does not speak like that. That is how a man in relative control speaks, who is involved in what is going on and is aware of the implications of the matter. Considering the circumstances, there is something reassuring in that.