Talk to Hamas, Israelis tell government


by Leon
28th February, 2008 at 12:09 pm    

Israel is under growing pressure to talk to the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas, which fired a barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel yesterday, killing a student.

The strike followed the publication of a poll showing 64% of Israelis want their government to negotiate with Hamas to broker a ceasefire and secure the release of a soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was captured in 2006.

A Tel Aviv University professor, Camil Fuchs, who supervised the survey for Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper, said the results showed that Israeli’s were fed up with the conflict. “They’re tired, they want a normal life,” Fuchs said. [Via The Guardian]

Who doesn’t want a normal life? It’s heartening that the Israeli people are turning toward the reality of the situation with such pragmatism. How will their government respond and will the US government allow them the sovereignty of their decision if it aligns with public opinion on this matter?


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  1. platinum786 — on 28th February, 2008 at 12:27 pm  

    If Israel can force back it’s fringe extremist elements and manage to talk to Hamas, I have no doubt that Hamas can come to an agreement with Israel. Perhaps the release of this soldier can be a step towards the complete solution of the problem.

  2. Rumbold — on 28th February, 2008 at 1:44 pm  

    And hopefully the Gazans will pressure Hamas into not firing lethal Quassam rockets anymore. There has to be peace on both sides if this is to get anywhere.

  3. Sunny — on 28th February, 2008 at 2:08 pm  

    Agreed…

    now can we quickly close the thread? lol.

  4. bananabrain — on 28th February, 2008 at 2:15 pm  

    it’s a funny one this. on one hand, i don’t think anyone in israel is that keen on talking to hamas because of the famous “sending a message” or “no platform” arguments that are so popular in student politics, but on the other, i don’t see how discussions can be avoided. the thing is, hamas aren’t actually interested in talking. that’s why they keep firing the rockets (of which there have been 400+ already this year alone and it’s only february) in order to keep the pressure up and, most disturbingly, to keep the israeli retaliations coming.

    did anyone see that programme “inside hamas” the other night? david t from harry’s place wrote an excellent piece on it for the jewish chronicle. this is an organisation that appears to do its best to make everyone toe the “death to israel” party line, whereas the gazans themselves are actually both disillusioned and tired of the constant confrontation strategy, which they know they can’t actually win. it’s not like kassam rockets can actually do much damage, but they can make life in sderot unbearable.

    i just got back from a holiday in eilat with the family a couple of days ago, a feature of which was my ongoing discussion/argument with my auntie and uncle who live in the north, near the lebanese border and got thoroughly rocketed in the 2006 summer war. they actually don’t see any point in further concessions, because the result of the gaza disengagement, as they see it, was to enable hamas to move its rockets up to the border and reach sderot, ashkelon and other places in southern israel. it is hard to see what exactly israel gained from the gaza withdrawal other than temporary PR benefits. personally, it was important to me that such a paradigm shift of sharon taking on the settler lobby took place, but in terms of actual tangible benefits – it seems that the israelis are just as badly off out as they were when they were in, given that they still can’t stop the bombardments and are still getting a pasting internationally for their clampdowns and isolation of gaza.

    i guess you guys already know my prescription for a solution – but i saw a small piece of it on my holiday, which was great. we were staying in a slightly more downmarket hotel in eilat, where virtually nobody was from abroad; it was all israelis – but this included a substantial complement of israeli arabs. our kids were playing together in the kiddies’ area; it wasn’t unusual to hear arabic spoken and see hijabs amongst the guests in the dining room; there was even one little girl who insisted on swimming with her hijab on and all her clothes (not that i approve of that sort of thing, but at least it was integrated) – i actually wish some of our more doctrinaire “progressives” could have seen it; jewish staff serving arab guests and vice versa without fear or favour – it was just so *normal*.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  5. anas — on 28th February, 2008 at 2:50 pm  

    Sorry I didn’t want to get into yet another IP discussion on this forum and I really short of time at the mo but I couldn’t let some of what BB said pass.

    to keep the israeli retaliations coming.

    Firstly, why is it always that israel are retaliating? Why is it never that the Palestinians who are firing rockets (into a country which let’s not forgetting is currently occupying the WHOLE of the West Bank) are retaliating for the latest Israeli “targeted” assassination (with its usual collateral toll) or other brutality. Not that I agree with any side’s targetting of civilians, but it’s deeply biased way of framing it — which is OK from someone who’s vocally pro-Israel like BB, but less so when it’s the BBC or other supposedly mainstream sources.

    given that they still can’t stop the bombardments and are still getting a pasting internationally for their clampdowns and isolation of gaza.

    This line made me almost physically sick. So the Israeli’s attempts to literally starve the people of Gaza into submission — and we’re talking about actually starving the whole population here remember, children (future terrorists), women (the mothers of terrorists), the elderly (past terrorists) — far from being a sickeningly inhuman, utterly barabaric form of extreme collective punishment carried out on a helpless population hemmed in on both sides, shouldn’t even have earned poor Israel an international “pasting” — let alone the initiation of punitive sanctions and boycotts against Israel or any other international moves aimed at ending the strangulation and slow murder of the Gazans. I’d be shocked if I wasn’t already aware that this complete callousness and lack of basic human empathy with the Palestinians is deeply ingrained in our culture.

  6. sonia — on 28th February, 2008 at 3:38 pm  

    oh for goodness sakes, this is clearly the sort of stuff that keeps each side from talking to each other. Look – its like in a relationship, your husband might think its all your fault, you might think its all his, and therefore you shoudl not have to apologise, because you were only doing things in return for what he started, and he claims the same from his side, and it never ends. Yes it is hard to swallow and go ok, whatever, let’s just talk, because everyone wants the injustice to them recognised – but when do you actually move on and say, whatever, there is injustice all around, so let’s talk so there isn’t any more?

  7. bananabrain — on 28th February, 2008 at 3:59 pm  

    exactly, sonia.

    Firstly, why is it always that israel are retaliating?

    oh, come off it anas, you know nobody’s ever going to win a “who started it” argument, so i’m not even going to bother with that. the fact is that the rocket attacks serve *no* military purpose whatsoever. they do not prevent the israelis from doing anything at all – except, of course, make it more politically difficult to make concessions. the israeli attacks – which, to save time, i agree are a) ineffective and b) frequently inaccurate – are aimed at removing the militants’ offensive capability, which is, lest we forget, only still in existence because of their using their own population as human shields. that, in my book, is a pretty big difference. another pretty big difference is this: the israelis are actually making an effort to reduce the amount of innocent bystanders that get hurt, if you see here:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/939702.html

    ok, one innocent bystander killed is still one too many, but at least they’re fecking trying.

    a country which let’s not forgetting is currently occupying the WHOLE of the West Bank

    nobody’s forgetting that. and are the west bank palestinians firing rockets? no, they’re negotiating. presumably “resistance” is more glamorous to all the armchair shaheeds in the “progressive” world.

    This line made me almost physically sick.

    i’m sorry if my attempts to discuss this without resorting to emotional blackmail upset you. i was talking about the diplomatic sphere, not your apparent wish to restrict everything to media-style handwringing and “human interest”.

    So the Israeli’s attempts to literally starve the people of Gaza into submission — and we’re talking about actually starving the whole population here remember, children (future terrorists), women (the mothers of terrorists), the elderly (past terrorists) — far from being a sickeningly inhuman, utterly barabaric form of extreme collective punishment carried out on a helpless population hemmed in on both sides, shouldn’t even have earned poor Israel an international “pasting”

    as i think i’ve said elsewhere, i don’t think the blockade is really helping and i think the tactics are counterproductive and unethical, but perhaps you forget what happened just a week or so ago, when hamas blew a hole in the egyptian side (why is it, i wonder, that you never mention their side of the border?) and were able to run their own comings and goings for a while, what did they do about it, did they bring in food? oh, no, that’s right, they brought in arms and explosives and sent suicide bombers to dimona. you may not like the border being closed, neither do i, but if the alternative is suicide bombings, i can understand them keeping it closed.

    [quote]I’d be shocked if I wasn’t already aware that this complete callousness and lack of basic human empathy with the Palestinians is deeply ingrained in our culture.[/quote]
    you see, this is what annoys me. you assume that my wish for israelis not to be murdered makes me immune to empathy with the palestinians and it bloody well doesn’t! the palestinians need something more than empathy, anas. they need leadership that can give them something more than a blind alley of sloganeering and meaningless bloodshed, just like the israelis need leadership that can deliver something more than macho posturing.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  8. Avi Cohen — on 28th February, 2008 at 4:58 pm  

    The simple fact is both sides are to blame and are as stubborn as each other. The only way this is going to be resolved is by them talking and without US interference.

    Old Tony Blair hasn’t achieved anything tangible.

    BB – despite your assertion about care it is a hollow statement when Israel dropped cheap and unrelaible USA made cluster bombs in Lebanon still maiming people today because they were cheaper than Israeli made but much much more relaible cluster bombs. So where was the protection of innocent life there when in fact it was money that won out?

    Also where was the protection of innocent life when a Senior Officer was let off for murdering an innocent school girl by emptying his rifle bullets into her despite his unit shouting at him that it was a school girl.

    Lets be honest here both sides are bloody stupid and both don’t give a damn about human life no matter how much we like to think they do. It is all about victory and not losing face.

    Saying sorry doesn’t bring back the dead. So dropping a 2 ton bomb to kill a militant and levelling a block of falts and saying sorry afterwards doesn’t constitute care.

    Is the killing of people at roadblocks or suffocating of villages any better or worse than bombings and rockets. Both kill innocent people.

    Both sides are behaving bloody stupidly.

    At the end of the day the ordinary people are fed up and want it to stop. The politicians don’t. It is that simple.

  9. sonia — on 28th February, 2008 at 5:06 pm  

    ..that’s for sure..that both sides are stubborn.

  10. Leon — on 28th February, 2008 at 5:08 pm  

    now can we quickly close the thread? lol.

    Heh heh! Yeah that might be wise.

    I only posted it because I thought it’s a small spark of hope amidst all the gloom of that region…

  11. Avi Cohen — on 28th February, 2008 at 5:17 pm  

    Sonia – I think it is solvable but the politicians don’t have the will. The are close to agreement on most issues but the will to do this is lacking. Both think they can win and in reality both are losing.

    I think Bush and Blair are largely to blame as they did nothing to help solve this until they were lame in office or out of office.

    It needs true leadership and there isn’t such a leader on either side.

    I did have hope for Livni but she is starting to hide behind the same rhetoric which is old tired and failed. Abbas isn’t a leader full stop.

  12. sonia — on 28th February, 2008 at 5:32 pm  

    external factors are not helping that’s for sure -and that goes for supporters of ‘both’ sides. its like both families stopping the unhappy couple from reconciling – fanning the flames – but HE hurt you! But SHE hurt you!don’t speak to each other! get a divorce..of course they can’t agree on the divorce settlement.. and so it goes on.

  13. Don — on 28th February, 2008 at 5:51 pm  

    I seldom comment on I/P threads, but isn’t one major reason for the lack of progress the fact that both sides need the support of factions who won’t give an inch because, well, that’s how god wants it?

    I don’t want to over-egg the pudding, but US policy also has to take into account how it will play with the End of Days whackos.

  14. Avi Cohen — on 28th February, 2008 at 6:10 pm  

    Not that I often agree with Sonia but in comment 12 she sums it up pretty well.

    Don I have to say that God is used as an excuse as the overriding factor for those who believe in God is to live a just and good life. How that is possible with both sides tearing each other apart is beyond me!

    The end of day whackos are just egging on conflict.

    The problem is the world doesn’t have the will to make the sides come to peace and war itself is good for business so the good ole USA is simply fanning the flames.

  15. Don — on 28th February, 2008 at 6:26 pm  

    Avi,

    I’d agree that god is often used as an excuse, and that a simple, honest sustaining faith is not intrinsically malevolent. (Hey, I’m an atheist, but a reasonable one.) But very often the most fanatical and bigotted are undoubtedly sincere in their belief.

    As for the End of Days, just stumbled upon this;

    http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/27/mega-church-pastor-in-texas-backs-mccain/

    Hell, if there is a vote in it, politicians will even court the Phelps obscenity.

  16. Avi Cohen — on 28th February, 2008 at 7:58 pm  

    Don,

    Sincerity in belief they may have but their belief is fundementally incorrect. They are simply fullfilling a power desire.

    There is no mainstream of any religion that deems taking of innocent life as acceptable.

    Fear is a great way to bring people to extreme in religion.

  17. Avi Cohen — on 28th February, 2008 at 8:06 pm  

    A pretty interesting article:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7268876.stm

    Also some sad news as 4 young children die in Gaza following an air strike:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7269154.stm

    The situation is sheer madness and the world powers should be ashamed they are sitting by doing nothing.

    The stupidity is both sides are building deterrent power to maintain a stupid situation.

    Damn it why can’t they just start negotiating and stop this?

    False Pride is what it is that is stopping them coming to an agreement.

  18. Don — on 28th February, 2008 at 9:04 pm  

    ‘Sincerity in belief they may have but their belief is fundementally incorrect. They are simply fullfilling a power desire.’

    Can’t think of a statement I’d agree with more.

  19. Random Guy — on 29th February, 2008 at 9:50 am  

    This is quite shocking:-

    http://www.reuters.com/article/featuredCrisis/idUSL296121231

    I thought this was a taboo things to do, but I guess I was wrong…

  20. bananabrain — on 29th February, 2008 at 10:32 am  

    holy crap, random guy, i can’t believe it. what a fecking idiot. what a catastrophic remark that will prove to be. i knew israeli politicians were stupid but this really takes the cake. i’m completely furious with this fool. with any luck he will be forced to resign by the outcry i anticipate from around the world.

    The simple fact is both sides are to blame and are as stubborn as each other.

    i agree. i just wish people would acknowledge this but no, everyone has to try and shift all the blame onto one or other of the sides. it drives me up the fecking wall.

    BB – despite your assertion about care it is a hollow statement when Israel dropped cheap and unreliable USA made cluster bombs in Lebanon still maiming people today because they were cheaper than Israeli made but much much more reliable cluster bombs. So where was the protection of innocent life there when in fact it was money that won out?

    firstly, i was talking about hamas and gaza. if you want to talk about lebanon, there i would say that given that half a million israelis were under fire from far more sophisticated weaponry, the army was under-equipped and under-trained, i reckon military procurement was hardly going to be at the forefront of operational decisions at that time. if you know anything about procurement, you’ll know that it is easier to get supplies externally that are cheap and plentiful rather than build them in-house when the entire north of the country was in bomb shelters, including my family. as it is, i think the lebanon campaign was inept and poorly managed, but it was still originally a defensive one however cack-handed it eventually became. i don’t think either of us are in a position to make judgements about this and, besides, like i said, i was talking about gaza – this feels like whataboutery.

    Also where was the protection of innocent life when a Senior Officer was let off for murdering an innocent school girl by emptying his rifle bullets into her despite his unit shouting at him that it was a school girl.

    right, because nobody in israel objected to that at all?

    Lets be honest here both sides are bloody stupid and both don’t give a damn about human life no matter how much we like to think they do. It is all about victory and not losing face.

    i still maintain that the israelis give a damn about it – but not enough to take on more risk for their own people; what they don’t do is set out to indiscriminately kill as many people as possible, because, as you very well know, if they wanted to, they really could.

    Saying sorry doesn’t bring back the dead. So dropping a 2 ton bomb to kill a militant and levelling a block of falts and saying sorry afterwards doesn’t constitute care.

    dan halutz, right? wasn’t he forced to resign in disgrace?

    Both sides are behaving bloody stupidly.

    yes, yes and yes.

    At the end of the day the ordinary people are fed up and want it to stop. The politicians don’t. It is that simple.

    to a point. there is still a considerable constituency that thinks if they only get tough enough they can win and hang the consequences – politicians are only responding to this in order to keep their votes – as don shows with his link.

    It needs true leadership and there isn’t such a leader on either side. I did have hope for Livni but she is starting to hide behind the same rhetoric which is old tired and failed. Abbas isn’t a leader full stop.

    exactly.

    external factors are not helping that’s for sure -and that goes for supporters of ‘both’ sides. its like both families stopping the unhappy couple from reconciling – fanning the flames – but HE hurt you! But SHE hurt you!don’t speak to each other! get a divorce..of course they can’t agree on the divorce settlement.. and so it goes on.

    sonia, this couldn’t be more accurate. I/P is in many ways a proxy war between the americans and the iranians/syrians/saudis, but the islamists and settlers, would still want to fight each other even without this.

    The stupidity is both sides are building deterrent power to maintain a stupid situation. Damn it why can’t they just start negotiating and stop this? False Pride is what it is that is stopping them coming to an agreement.

    gosh, avi, i think you and i actually agree about this.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  21. Random Guy — on 29th February, 2008 at 1:32 pm  

    Agreed, it is shocking BB.

    At the moment, some commentary indicates that the minister may have been misquoted because of semantics in Hebrew, much like the infamous Ahmedinijad comment about ‘Wiping Israel off the map’. We’ll see.

  22. Avi Cohen — on 29th February, 2008 at 2:54 pm  

    BB – “right, because nobody in israel objected to that at all?”

    As I said in my original comment, people in the IDF itself did object very loudly but my point was that it didn’t make any difference as he got away free which shocked his own colleagues.

    When people – any people – get into such a state that even when people find an act so reprehensible and the perpetrator gets away with it then things have simply descended too far. That was my point.

    Both sides are now at this state. Things people find truly shocking are acceptable.

    I am not saying either side is right, they are both wrong.

    What you’ll find BB is that yes people care but not the politicians. They want to be seen hammering people.

    Don’t forget that even Rabin urged the IDF to break the bones of unarmed protesters – hardly caring!

    What we need to do is try and get both sides out of this mess. To do that we need to be honest and say they both have crossed the very bounds of decent behavior.

    It is no longer acceptable and we can’t defend either sides behavior – it is all morally unacceptable.

  23. marvin — on 1st March, 2008 at 11:06 am  

    This is quite shocking:-

    http://www.reuters.com/article/featuredCrisis/idUSL296121231

    I thought this was a taboo things to do, but I guess I was wrong…

    Yeah I was shocked too. Then I read this

    Reuters mistake triggers Israel “Holocaust” libel

  24. bananabrain — on 3rd March, 2008 at 10:25 am  

    arg. well, even if it is true, i still wouldn’t let him off the hook. he should know better. this sort of thing only gives the israel bashers more ammunition.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

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