Israel’s continued insistence on relating to Hamas in the negotiations and to the demands of the terror organization describing them repeatedly as “over the top” is a clear indication that there is nothing further removed from this government’s itinerary than resolving the conflict with the Palestinians in earnest. As long as Israel plays into Hamas’ hands and negotiates with the organization directly or indirectly, all that both sides will be negotiating over is an extended cease fire with some vague promises for relaxing the blockade of Gaza. The settlement may include a port and airport or not, and enable extended fishing privileges or not, at sometime in the future. It really doesn’t make any difference. Playing the game of Hamas is playing the game of Netanyahu. And the clock for Israel’s next military incursion into the Gaza strip will start running the moment any agreement with Hamas is initialized.
All Hamas wants to do is shore up it’s hold on power in Gaza, get some tangible benefit out of the negotiations relieving the closure and if need be, throw some crumbs to Abu Mazen to accommodate the PA and Israel. And all Israel wants is to have peace and quiet with Gaza with as little change in the status-quo vis-a-vis the Palestinians as a whole as can possibly be achieved. Israel has a lot of experience maintaining the status-quo having done exceptionally well at this task for 47 years.
The only way to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in earnest and finally end the status-quo materially, should anybody be interested, is by bypassing Hamas and engaging with the moderate Sunni countries in our neighborhood. Egypt and Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Quatar and whoever in the Arab League who wants to join in should be part of the negotiations. And of of course the Palestinian Authority. Israel must turn to them and negotiate a complete final status agreement with the Palestinians including Gaza and the West Bank and leave Hamas by the side.
Hamas is not interested in a full settlement encompassing both, Gaza and the West Bank since it knows that the moment the conflict is settled it will have lost it’s raison de’etre. Just like Netanyahu whose sole raison d’etre is and always has been, to prevent a territorial compromise over the Land of Israel.
If all, or most moderate Arab countries join negotiations with Israel and leave Hamas out while decidedly relating to Hamas’ demands to the extent that these demands benefit the people of Gaza, Hamas will have difficulty not to support such an arrangement. A promise to pay the salaries of Hamas officials would further weaken the organization’s interest to obstruct the developments.
Negotiating with the moderate Arab countries and reaching an agreement with them and the PA while bypassing Hamas will weaken the latter while giving the organization implied credit for creating the situation that made negotiating a final agreement with Israel possible. This would permit Hamas to consider it’s political future and possibly re-integrate into the Palestinian authority in an honorable way having played a not insignificant part in achieving Palestinian independence.
Now if there was anybody of consequence in the Government of Israel interested in resolving the conflict with the Palestinians that would really be something..