Rabbi Menachem Froman, the iconoclastic settler religious leader who embraces Muslim-Jewish religious dialogue and peace initiatives, reached agreement with a Hamas journalist for an Israeli-Hamas ceasefire in Gaza. Senior Hamas figures have enthusiastically endorsed the proposal. Ehud Olmert is silent:
…[The] recently drafted a cease-fire agreement…includes the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, [and] was submitted to the cabinet and to the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.
Rabbi Menachem Froman of the West Bank settlement of Tekoa has for years been involved in interfaith dialogue toward Israeli-Palestinians peace. For several months he has been working closely with Khaled Amayreh, a Hebron-area journalist who is close to Hamas.
“Our proposal was presented to the highest political echelon in the Hamas government in Gaza and gained 100-percent approval,” Amayreh told Haaretz Sunday, while refusing to name the government officials. Froman said the document was presented to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has yet to respond to it.
Even if the attempt turns out to be merely an academic exercise, say Froman and Amayreh, its elements could be used by the Jerusalem and Gaza governments. It does not, for example, include the recognition by Hamas of the State of Israel, instead “recognizing that there are Jews living in the Holy Land,” according to Froman.
…The proposal calls for Israel to lift its sanctions on the Gaza Strip, permit economic relations between Gaza and the outside world and open all border crossings. The Israel Defense Forces would end “all hostile activities toward the Gaza Strip, including targeted assassinations, the setting of ambushes, aerial bombardments and all penetrations into Gazan territory, in addition to ending the arrest, detention and persecution of Palestinians in the Strip.”
The Palestinians would be obligated “to take all the necessary steps to completely end the attacks against Israel,” including stopping “indefinitely all rocket attacks on Israel,” assaults “on Israeli civilians and soldiers” and “to impose a cease-fire on all groups, factions and individuals operating in the Strip.”
There you have it. Almost everything Israel has wanted from Hamas for as long as anyone can remember. All tied up in a neat package. All there for the taking. Of course, the provision recognizing that Jews live in the Holy Land appears lame as reported by Haaretz since it states the obvious. But I’ve learned that it’s important to see entire original documents before judging them based on how they are reported in Israeli media. It should also be noted that, at least to me, recognition of Israel is an issue that should happen as part of an overall peace agreement and not necessarily before such final status negotiations occur. I expect Hamas to recognize Israel, but not necessarily right now; nor do I think it is critical that it do so right now.
It is characteristic of Israeli government lassitude that Olmert has not responded nor would I expect him to do so. Remember, this is the same Menachem Froman whom the Shin Bet prevented from attending previous negotiations with Hamas. Unfortunately, Israeli politicians don’t want to touch Froman with a ten foot poll. In fact, he’s dangerous to the intelligence establishment since he has a wild card status as a co-founder of Gush Emunim and settler advocate for peace. And it’s a shame since he is a critical voice willing to reach a peace agreement with Israel’s sworn enemy Hamas. To paraphrase Abba Eban, Israelis and Palestinians never seem to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. This time the onus is on Olmert.