Reports of Hamas-Israel negotiations for a five-year truce in exchange for opening Gaza’s seaport are not as far-fetched as they sound. Though they are bitter enemies, Israel and Hamas have already negotiated several cease-fires to end conflicts–indirectly, through Egypt–and both have shown a desire to prevent another full-scale outbreak of violence like the one a year ago.
Gaza’s seaport was supposed to be a beacon of progress after Israel and the Palestinians began their
peace process in the 1990s, but it was never built. Palestinians blamed Israel, but evidence mounted of Palestinian corruption, skimming and use of shoddy materials–the behavior that got Fatah, headed then by Yasser Arafat and now by his successor, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, expelled from Gaza by Hamas in 2006.
Israel maintains a sea quarantine on Gaza, endorsed by the UN, to prevent weapons shipmens to the militants. The reports of negotiations to open the seaport include the issue of Israeli security.
Talking to host P.J. Maloney on KQV Radio in Pittsburgh, I’m talking here about what the proposals mean for Hamas internally, and I refer to Israeli academics who believe Israel needs to start dealing with Hamas. Here’s a link to one of the papers, from a top Tel Aviv University think tank.