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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/12/18

Israeli and Hamas Leaders Must Face the Bitter Reality

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On the other hand, Israel's demand that Hamas must first surrender its weapons as a precondition to even gradual lifting of the blockade is tantamount to surrender, which Hamas cannot realistically accept. The easing and eventual lifting of the blockade should be subject to confidence-building measures and the continuing process of reconciliation, which would lead to the demilitarization of Gaza with the support of Egypt, who is also keen on disarming Hamas.

Israel must accept the reality that Hamas is there to stay, and given the fact that Israel has the upper hand, it can take some reconciliatory steps and change the combustible nature of the conflict without risking any element of its security. Moreover, given the growing tension between Israel, Iran, and Hezbollah, mitigating the struggle with Hamas will allow Israel to focus on the northern front, which is far more ominous than the conflict with Hamas.

If reconciliation between Israel and Hamas continues on a steady basis, it could eventually lead to the establishment of a seaport and airport in Gaza, along with assistance from Israel in building desalination plants. These conditional reconciliatory steps toward Hamas will also give Israel leverage over the West Bank in future negotiations, regardless of who leads the PA.

Anyone who is familiar with the internal thinking of Hamas and the Israeli government knows that both sides have resigned themselves to the unshakable reality of each other. Israel and Hamas have negotiated directly and indirectly on many occasions; they know each other's limitations, and what it would take to break the impasse and pave the way for future substantive negotiations.

Israel and Hamas must drop any demand that cannot realistically be met, as it only casts serious doubts about each other's ultimate intentions. Sadly, though, Gaza and Israel are led by hardline leaders who are wedded to the past, including Israel's Netanyahu and Bennett, and Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh, Yahya Sinwar, and others. They fear any change in direction that risks their position of power, which is to the detriment of their people.

Under any circumstances, however, the process of reconciliation is not only possible; it is the only way for both sides to get out of the morass they find themselves in. To be sure, regardless how many more violent conflicts they endure, they will still face one another, surveying, as in the past, their human and material losses rather than their gains, all to no avail.

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Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies. His dedication to writing about, analyzing, and (more...)

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