Into Gaza –Out Of Peace Negotiations For Israel

Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told foreign diplomats that Israel would reoccupy the Hamas ruled Gaza Strip if that was the only way to halt Kassam rocket attacks on neighboring cities. Secretary of State Condi Rice is attempting new efforts to restart the apparently stalled peace negotiations with President Abbas which have broken down due to the Gaza rocket situation. Livni made clear “we cannot afford this kind of exreme Islamic state controlled by Hamas” and unless rocket attacks cease, “we might find outselves in a situation where we have no other choice” but to send troops back into Gaza. She also blamed President Abbas for weakness by deciding to halt further discussions with the Israel government on resolving issues between Israel and Palestinian leaders.

Hamas in Gaza has been able to control the situation and decide whether Abbas can continue to pursue peace with Israel. They are undertaking a dangerous gamble, but so far it is working by allowing it to decide the course of Israel and Abbas actions. Israel still doesn’t grasp the importance of engaging in peace discussions with all groups including Hamas. Israel actually believed President Bush had an idea on how to achieve peace by the fiasco of the Annapolis Conference which excluded Hamas. The Hamas leadership has placed on the table an offer of a hudna, a cease fire in which neither side is allowed to continue military operations. Israel should accept this offer and insist Hamas must participate in peace talks along with Abbas.

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