Shlomo Ben Ami: 'Peace will be achieved only by talking to Hamas'

February, 26, 2009, The Times, London.We need to rethink the strategy for achieving peace in the Middle East

Sir, If every crisis is also an opportunity, it is now time to rethink the strategy for achieving peace in the Middle East. The latest and bloodiest conflict between Israel and Hamas has demonstrated that the policy of isolating Hamas cannot bring about stability. As former peace negotiators, we believe it is of vital importance to abandon the failed policy of isolation and to involve Hamas in the political process.

An Israeli–Palestinian peace settlement without Hamas will not be possible. As the Israeli general and statesman Moshe Dayan said: “If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” There can be no meaningful peace process that involves negotiating with the representative of one part of the Palestinians while simultaneously trying to destroy the other.

Whether we like it or not, Hamas will not go away. Since its victory in democratic elections in 2006, Hamas has sustained its support in Palestinian society despite attempts to destroy it through economic blockades, political boycotts and military incursions. This approach is not working; a new strategy must be found. Yes, Hamas must recognise Israel as part of a permanent solution, but it is a diplomatic process and not ostracisation that will lead them there. The Quartet conditions imposed on Hamas set an unworkable threshold from which to commence negotiations. The most important first step is for Hamas to halt all violence as a precondition for their inclusion in the process. Ending their isolation will in turn help in reconciling the Palestinian national movement, a vital condition for meaningful negotiations with Israel.

We have learnt first-hand that there is no substitute for direct and sustained negotiations with all parties to a conflict, and rarely if ever a durable peace without them. Isolation only bolsters hardliners and their policies of intransigence. Engagement can strengthen pragmatic elements and their ability to strike the hard compromises needed for peace...


Ted said...

I agree.. Only talking makes pease

VOR said...

Hamas has also followed a self destructive policy by striking at their political rivals and therefore isolating themselves in Gaza. It gave an opportunity for Israel to label them as outcasts and putting through a blockade that has impoverished the area to such an extent that tunnels had to be dug to escape the dragnet. Hamas needs to come to terms that it cannot win its war through extremism, and needs to be a part of the peace process by reconciling its ideology with that of their rivals in the West bank and be willing to accept Israel as a viable partner for peace.

Anonymous said...

can someone tell me why Israel should recognize a group that is committed to Israel's destruction?

Since March 29th 2006