August 02, 2007

Jaw Jaw, Mossad Edition

Efraim Halevy, former head of Mossad, recommends Israel directly engage Hamas. Doubtless he'll be tarred an enemy of the state of Israel soon by varied notables.

....the dialogue option is receiving renewed attention amid widespread doubts about the viability of the Bush administration's latest plan for dealing with the Palestinians. The Gaza takeover effectively split the Palestinians into Gaza, controlled by Hamas, and the West Bank, politically dominated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the more secular Fatah party and his appointed prime minister, Salam Fayad.

In response, the White House has rolled out what it calls a "West-Bank-first" strategy. It envisions financial, political and diplomatic support for Mr. Abbas in an effort to improve West Bank life so dramatically that Palestinians will be wooed away from Hamas in both enclaves. At the same time, Washington plans to work with Israel to further isolate Hamas in Gaza, a policy that prohibits contact with the group.

Ms. Rice is expected to emphasize that strategy today and tomorrow in meetings with Israeli leaders and with Mr. Abbas.

But Mr. Halevy believes this strategy amounts to political fantasy, especially given the weakness of Fatah and signs it is fracturing inside the West Bank. "If there is a secret assessment somewhere which says this is going to do the job and is going to turn things around, I salute them," says the former spymaster, who retired from the Mossad at the end of 2002 and went on to briefly head Israel's National Security Council under then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He has since maintained his public profile as a commentator and author.

Mr. Halevy started advocating talking to Hamas last year, before the Gaza takeover. He now sees no other choice. "I don't say we should talk to Hamas out of sympathy to them. I have no sympathy whatsoever for Hamas. I think they are a ghastly crowd," Mr. Halevy says. "But I have not seen anybody who says the Abbas-Fayad tandem is going to do the job."

Mr. Halevy says defeating Hamas politically is unrealistic, given its enduring popularity among Palestinians. Hamas defeated Fatah in Palestinian parliamentary elections last year.

"The danger is that they will not be defeated, that they will become more despairing...and they will no longer feel constrained by anything, because there is nothing left for them to hope for," he says.

In the end, he fears, that will mean that the only option for Hamas will be to return to a strategy of larger-scale terrorist attacks on Israel. The conflict currently plays out in almost daily low-intensity fighting between the two sides.

Mr. Halevy says pressure should be used to reach a favorable, long-term armistice, similar to those Israel reached with hostile neighbors after the Jewish state was founded in 1948. Hamas has repeatedly said it is willing to discuss such a deal.

"We signed armistice agreements with all of the Arab world," Mr. Halevy says, adding that many Arab nations agreed to end hostilities without formally recognizing Israel. The U.S. and Israel have pushed for a formal recognition of Israel from Hamas before agreeing to possible talks.

"Political fantasy". A succinct description of this Administration's spectacularly mediocre foreign policy. And a fitting epitaph for it too.

Posted by Gregory at August 2, 2007 03:16 AM


But what does Efraim Halevy really know about the Middle East or terrorists?

Halevy's not a battle-hardened anti-terrorist veteran like William Kristol, Jonah Goldberg, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, Mark Steyn, Michael Ledeen, Paul Wolfowitz, Eliot Abrams, Irving Kristol, or Benjamin Netanyahu.

Halevy merely ran Mossad; he's never had to battle a D.C. cocktail party crowd at an event hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Heritage Foundation, or American Enterprise Institute. Those forums offer the true test of one's mettle and allegiance to freedom and/or free drinks.

Sounds, instead, like Halevy is just another appeasement surrender monkey who wants to give Israel to the terrorists.

Posted by: John P. Normanson at August 2, 2007 04:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I remember well when my college professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs warned about what he called the Groucho Marx Syndrome (as in I wouldn't want to joint any club that would accept me as a member). His point was that leaders who are always willing to do our bidding invariably lack legitimacy at home. The ones with real legitimacy follow their own agenda, not ours.

Abbas and his friends have the Groucho Marx syndrome in spades. It is time for us to face that fact.

Posted by: Enlightened Layperson at August 2, 2007 06:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Halevy is a "self hater"!

Posted by: krautdammer at August 2, 2007 05:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.

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