Sunday, February 17, 2008

Time to Negotiate with Hamas?

I was disappointing to see that even the usually dovish Haaretz, this week came out in favour of a strong military response to rocket attacks from Hamas controlled Gaza.

The daily rocket barrages are "driving Israel's nuts", says Haaretz. The death of two Israeli brothers last week certainly raised the temperature. It had Israeli citizens - rightfully - demanding that their governmnet do something - anything - to address their security concerns. But why must all problem be addressed militarily? Indeed, it is pretty clear that the rockets cannot be stopped militarily - at least not in the short run. (There are some high tech anti rocket solutions on the horizon. They may work. But if they do, we can safely assume, the Palestinian radicals will find some other way to make Israelis' lives miserable.)

Everyone seems to have conveniently forgotten (or chosen to ignore or belittle) Hamas' offer for a long term cease fire - or Hudnah. Hamas has spoken of 20 years or longer. What's so bad about that. A long term cease fire - an Armistice - is, in fact, exactly what Israel signed with its Arab enemies in 1949. It gave Israel many years of relative peace and quiet.

Stopping the daily tit for tat violence is a pre-requisite for any hope of normalization and eventual peace. Why not try it? The military "solution" may be what Israel is comfortable with: it has tried it so many times before. But, at best, it brings a short term emotional catharsis. In the long term - as far as dealing with the Palestinians is concerned - it only creates more problems. It has proven over and over that it is no solution at all.

Why don't we try negotiations?

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