Israel’s former national security adviser called on the Olmert government to hold talks with Hamas.
Giora Eiland, a retired general who stepped down as national security adviser last year, in an op-ed Sunday described Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s policy of shunning the Palestinian Islamist group as counterproductive.
To stop rocket salvoes from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and recover captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Israel must engage Hamas, Eiland wrote in Yediot Achronot.
“Israel needs to recognize that a de facto government is in place in the Gaza Strip that is not subordinate to the Palestinian Authority,” he said. “This government bears responsibility for everything that occurs in the Gaza Strip, including the rocket fire into Israel, irrespective of which organization is behind which rocket.
“The continued pursuit of current Israeli policy will lead sooner or later to a large-scale military operation to conquer Gaza. It is better to create effective deterrence than to launch an operation of that sort. Effective deterrence can be obtained only if you have a counterpart who bears responsibility and has what to lose.”
Eiland’s proposal was echoed by Israel’s former defense minister, Amir Peretz, whose hometown Sderot has regularly been shelled from Gaza.
“To talk is something that is never to be ruled out,” Peretz told Army Radio. ” If a Hamas man were to say to me tomorrow, ‘listen, let’s meet at the Erez border crossing,’ believe me, it’s just a few minutes’ drive from Sderot. I’d go there and would meet him.”
Olmert, with Western backing, is adamant that Israel will have no dealings with Hamas until it recognizes the Jewish state’s right to exist, renounces terrorism and accepts past Israeli-Palestinian peace accords.