Friday, March 26, 2010

New Strategic Thinking in Israel: Engage Hamas

Israeli civil society at its best is now far ahead of the Obama Administration in innovatively reevaluating Israel’s national security interests.

Writing in the Guardian on 3/22/10, IDF veterans and founding members of Courage to Refuse Arik Diamant and David Zonsheine call on moral grounds for an end to the murder of Hamas leaders by an Israel addicted to a “culture of killing:”

By killing their leaders, Israel is sending a clear message of rejection and contempt to the Palestinians. Israel is saying, and has been saying for decades: we do not negotiate. Israel's assassination policy should be understood as a complement to its politics; its refusal to arrive at a compromise with its neighbours is the real story behind the extrajudicial killings.

Almost simultaneously with these Israeli dissident patriots, former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy makes the same argument in The New Republic on 3/26/10 on practical grounds:

Under the current circumstances—with the destructive gamesmanship of the Palestinian Authority and the stagnation in Gaza—the time has surely come to explore a new relationship with Hamas. Attempts to penalize the group with exclusion have failed; perhaps, the time has come for a strategy that co-opts Hamas….a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that excludes Hamas….would be a fool’s errand…. Hamas has demonstrated a will and a capacity to think and act pragmatically when it believes it useful or necessary. There’s no better example of this than its governance of Gaza…. Current policy, after all, sends Hamas the signal that it is doomed to exclusion come what may and forever. But the more that Hamas is permitted inside the tent, the better the prospects of a modest (yet historic) success.

When Israeli patriots so politically disparate simultaneously reach such a fundamentally revolutionary strategic conclusion on a combination of moral and practical grounds, might it possibly be time for Washington to start thinking creatively?

No comments: