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It seems that a truce or "lull" agreement between Israel and the Hamas may be inevitable, or not. One headline tells us the Israel-Hamas truce could begin later this week but another claims Israel doesn't trust the Hamas and is just going through the motions of negotiating to please Egypt and Hosni Mubarak.

There are a few reasons why the truce would be disadvantageous to Israel, and no reasons why it would be advantageous.

A matter of principle- Hamas is committed to destroying Israel and has stated over and over that it would never make peace with Israel, and that it is committed to destroying Israel by armed resistance. The name of the organization is Harakat Mowqawama Islamiyeh, "The Islamic resistance movement." What don't you understand about that??? The Hamas charter makes it explicit - every Jew must be killed in order to bring about the end of days, it claims, citing a Hadith. All of Palestine is a holy waqf (religious endowment) given to Muslims by Allah and none of it can ever be surrendered, according to Hamas. Hamas will never put down its arms. As such, Hamas's participation in the Palestinian elections, allowed at the urging of the United States, was a clear violation of the Oslo interim agreement, which stipulates that groups committed to violence cannot participate in the elections. The Palestinian Authority was formed in order to make peace with Israel. It makes no sense for it to have a government that is opposed to peace in principle. Israel should never have agreed to allowing Hamas to assume power, even when elected "democratically." But then Hamas seized power by violence, making it an outlaw government. Every day that it remains in office establishes another "fact on the ground" - an illegal and anti-peace fact, a fact that is dangerous for Israel. Negotiating with Hamas lend it legitimacy, and permitting it to flourish in peace, are essentially Israeli agreement to a fait accompli that voids the peace process. If one proviso of one agreement can be erased, any proviso of any agreement is unsafe. Once Israel has negotiated with Hamas, the walls of international isolation that have thus far contained them will come tumbling down.

Sabotaging the Palestinian Authority - An agreement with Hamas would obviously detract from the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas, sabotaging Palestinian moderates. At the very least, it will raise the price for any peace agreement, because Hamas will be dictating the terms. And Hamas itself will never formally accede to any such agreement if it grants recognition to Israel.

Strengthening Hamas - The agreement would clearly give Hamas a chance to strengthen itself militarily, as arms would inevitably be smuggled into Gaza, despite Egyptian and Israeli efforts. Arms were smuggled into Gaza while Israel controlled Gaza, and more arms are smuggled in now. As long as Hamas or any other clandestine organization exists in Gaza, arms are going to be smuggled in.

They do not plan to keep the agreement - A Hamas official admitted that Hamas has no intention of ending resistance, even if an agreement is made. Rocket attacks and suicide bombings will be carried out by other groups. Israel will not be able to retaliate at Hamas, because that would be "breaking the truce."

What Israel has to gain, potentially, from the truce, is that at the price of releasing a large number of prisoners, it may get back one kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit, and it will get a temporary end to the rocket attacks on Western Negev, perhaps until we have an operational solution for those attacks. But the release of Schalit will be purchased at the cost of inviting future kidnappings and death. The Iron Dome solution that will not be ready for many months is admittedly unable to deal with very short range rockets, and it is very expensive.

It is true that Israel does not have many good alternativse. One possibility, for example, is to first invade Gaza and control the southern entrance at Rafah, destroy Hamas "infrastructure" and then negotiate from a position of strength (see: Israel talks to Hamas). Unfortunately, the myth of terrorist or guerrilla infrastructure is just a fantasy. They have only the most primitive infrastructure, which can always be reconstructed quickly, as the US found out when it tried to bomb out the Viet Cong, and as Israel found out in the Second Lebanon War. Any military solution is going to cost Israeli lives as well as the lives of numerous Palestinian civilians. Unless it completely routs the Hamas, the Hamas will declare victory. Therefore, Israel will be a position of weakness after such an operation, not a position of strength. Israel will be blamed by the world for civilian casualties while Hamas claims a 'victory.' An Israeli operation in Gaza may thus result in a situation in the Palestinian authority similar to the one created in Lebanon by the Second Lebanon War.

The correct solution, the only possible solution is to bring about removal of the Hamas in the only way that will be accepted by the world - the illegitimate Hamas government must be removed and replaced by a government of the Palestinian Authority. New elections must be held in which only factions committed to the peace process may participate. Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the United States should have been working in a focused way to obtain this result. Had they been looking at end goals, they would have done so. Instead, Israel has been focused on subsidiary issues and annoyances: kidnapped soldiers, rockets in Ashkelon versus rockets in Sderot, arms smuggling and other distractions that submerge the real issue that is responsible for all the problems.

Ami Isseroff



Original content is Copyright by the author 2008. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000550.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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The protracted agony of Qassam rockets falling on Israel is likely matched by the protracted agony of Palestinians living under Hamas rule. In this sense, it may well be that time isn't on Hamas's side as much as they choose to think it is.

Howard Wolf, Wednesday, May 21st


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