Who Goes First-Israel Or Hamas?

Hamas welcomed the European Union call for Israel to end the Gaza Strip blockade since it is apparent “the policy of isolation of Gaza strip has failed at both the political and humanitarian level.” The EU also asked President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to engage in dialogue with Hamas. Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesperson for Hamas, insisted his organization was prepared to enter into negotiations with Israel for a cease fire if the blockade would be lifted. A spokesperson for the Israel Foreign Ministry, Arye Mekel, responded by claiming, “if they stop the rocket fire at Israel towns, we will stop our steps which are meant to halt this daily rocket fire.”

Secretary Rice is making arrangements to meet with Prime Minister Olmert while both are on a trip to Japan in order to express her concerns about reports of a major Israel invasion of Gaza. In theory, both sides have agreed to meet the demands of their opponents if only the other side makes the first step. Perhaps, the European Union could serve as a neutral ground for both sides to come together and trasform words into actions. The Annapolis Conference in December made a terrible mistake by not including Hamas since it was an opportunity to make that organization match its rhetoric with reality.