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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hamas, Israel and the Definition of Insanity

According to Fox News reports say that Hamas and Israel are near an agreement on a truce.

Israel and the radical Islamic group Hamas have agreed on a truce to begin Thursday, Egypt's state-owned news agency said Tuesday.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said the group is committed to the truce deal. Israeli officials declined to confirm a deal, but said Israel's negotiator in the truce talks was rushing to Cairo and that they were "cautiously optimistic."

Egypt's MENA agency cited an unnamed high-level Egyptian official as saying that both sides "have agreed on the first phase" of an Egyptian package to end the violence in the Gaza Strip.

I have lost track of all the agreements for a truce that have been struck between the Israelis and Hamas. It seems mind boggling to me that Israel would even negotiate with terrorists let alone take them at their word when they agree to a truce.

The most troubling aspect of these talks is Ehud Olmert. Olmert's approval ratings were recently in single digits. There are rumors floating that he may be indicted on bribery charges. There are few things more dangerous than a weak politician trying to negotiate with foreign entities. It is even more dangerous when weakened politicians negotiate with their enemies. You always want to negotiate with your enemies from a position of strength. That can't happen if you aren't strong domestically. Furthermore, politicians that are weak domestically sometimes try and make a splash on a foreign policy agreement in order to strengthen their domestic hand.

There are rumors that the Israelis are also simultaneously negotiating a peace treaty with Syria and furthermore, rumor has it that they are willing to give up the Golan Heights in the process. (Here, I point out how absurd and dangerous it would ever be for Israel to ever give up the Golan Heights for any peace agreement) If such an agreement is ever reached, that would be proof positive of my theory about weak leaders negotiating on foreign policy. If Olmert ever had Israel agree to give up the Golan Heights in order to procure a peace agreement with Syria, it would be strictly to improve his standing domestically. No Israeli PM would ever dream of giving up the Golan Heights if they had strong domestic standing.

This brings me back to the current reported truce with Hamas. Everytime Hamas agrees to a truce all that really happens is that their fighters reconstitute and as soon as they are ready, Hamas finds an excuse to attack Israel again. Israel takes six to nine months of relative calm in exchange for an invigorated enemy as soon as that calm ends. So, why then is Olmert looking for yet another truce? Does he really believe that Hamas will act any differently this time? I don't know, however I do know that I fear a weakened political leader negotiating foreign policy.

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