Israel vs. Hamas: Is Hamas Blinking?
According to reports Sunday, the Hamas leadership in Gaza is ready to halt Qassam fire as part of a cease-fire deal that would involve an end to IDF action in the Gaza Strip. Senior members of Fatah made similar claims Saturday.
The initiative, discussed by representatives of Palestinian organizations in Gaza over the past several days, also includes an agreement to set up a unity government.
The Egyptian-initiated plan consists of freeing abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, a joint cease-fire and the cessation of IDF assassinations in the Gaza Strip. The release of Palestinian prisoners would be part of the deal, but come at a later stage.
It is not clear, however, whether the Hamas political leader in Damascus, Khaled Meshal, would agree to such a deal.
Several hours ago, Captain’s Quarters and The Moderate Voice commented on an earlier version of this article (hat tip to The Jawa Report, who pointed back to the Captain). It differed in one crucial respect, found in this paragraph from the earlier draft quoted by Captain’s Quarters:
The initiative, proposed by Egypt and discussed by Palestinian leaders in Gaza in the last few days, consists of freeing Gilad Shalit, a joint cease-fire and the cessation of the IDF’s assassinations in the Gaza Strip and freeing Palestinian prisoners later on.
As interpreted by the Captain, “Hamas leadership has agreed in principle to return Gilad Shalit now for consideration of future releases of Palestinian prisoners.”
The version on TMV was even more lacking in the Palestinian-prisoner-release clause:
Senior Fatah sources in Gaza said on Saturday Hamas is ready to accept a deal that involves freeing abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, a joint cease-fire and an end to IDF actions in the Gaza Strip.
Either she (Holly from Cincinnati) or the earliest version of the HaAretz article missed any mention of releasing Palestinians later. The version now found on HaAretz clearly puts prisoner release into the deal — just delays implementation of that clause.
Without question, it is a huge concession on the part of Hamas if they are willing to cease fire and release Shalit now, and get prisoners released later. But that’s not quite the same as flying the white flag of surrender. The question now is whether to allow Hamas to save face by promising a later prisoner release (whether or not the prisoners in question were up for release in any case), or to press forward until Hamas breaks down entirely, and releases Shalit without conditions. That honestly might happen, given the current concessions as discussed — but then again, intransigence could backfire.
What makes this especially apropos for Cross-Currents is that the question above — whether to agree to this deal, or push forward — is a question about human nature, and the expected reactions of those who hate us. David Bogner (Treppenwitz) says that an important part of the fight here is to teach the neighborhood bully to change his behavior. I think it could be said, on the other hand, that our forefather Yaakov allowed Esav (the neighborhood bully of the time) to save face, even when Esav approached him to wage war.
But the true experts in this matter are not you and I, not the politicians, and not the generals — but the gedolei Torah, the great Torah scholars, who are also great scholars of human nature. I would find it reassuring if Olmert were to call the Moetzes Gedolei Torah to get their advice on how to respond to this offer… I just don’t think that’s likely to happen, and more’s the pity.