Hamas mulling direct talks with Israel

Israel has never negotiated directly with the terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip with an iron fist.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

After having its military capabilities severely downgraded in Operation Guardian of the Walls that ended Friday, Hamas is now mulling the idea of talking directly with Israel, Channel 12 reported Sunday.

The ceasefire that led to a halt of some 4,000 indiscriminate missile launches into Israel over 11 days and IAF retaliatory strikes was achieved mostly through Egyptian mediation.

Now, says the report, some Hamas leaders are proposing to eliminate the middleman and negotiate directly with Israel. They compared it to the Taliban in Afghanistan, who hate the U.S. but sat across the table with the Trump administration team to come to an agreement regarding the removal of American military forces from the country.

This is not the first time that such a proposal has been aired. Deputy Hamas Chief Moussa Abu Marzouk mentioned the possibility after the previous round of hostilities provoked by the terrorist organization, which led to Israel’s limited invasion of the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

“Up to now, our policy has been not to negotiate directly with Israel, but we’re not talking about something that is forbidden according to Sharia law,” he said then in an interview on Al Quds TV.

Whether Israel would agree to direct negotiations is an open question, as it officially considers Hamas a terrorist organization and not a legitimate government. Formally, the Palestinian Authority (PA)  is still in charge of Gaza, although it has not been a power there since Hamas violently overthrew the Fatah regime in 2007.

Negotiations toward reconciliation between the two Palestinians sides have occurred on and off over the years, but even when agreements were signed, nothing ever came of them.

Hamas has also never agreed to abide by the three longtime, basic conditions set by the EU, UN, U.S. and Russia (the Quartet) negotiating team to facilitate the peace process. These are: recognizing the state of Israel, renouncing violence as a means of achieving its goals, and agreeing to abide by previous diplomatic Palestinian-Israel agreements.

In his latest statement alluding to the subject on Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden said, “Until the region says, unequivocally, they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace.”

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Marzouk, who is one of the founders of Hamas, said in a 2012 interview with The Forward that the most Hamas would ever agree to with Israel is an armed truce.

Like Israel, the Americans also consider Hamas a terrorist organization and will only speak to the PA regarding the Gaza Strip. In his upcoming trip to the region, announced by the State Department on Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to meet with PA officials in Ramallah as well as with senior members of the Israeli, Egyptian, and Jordanian governments.