Is Hamas prepared to end this war with a long-term ceasefire?
An important Hamas leader called me last evening and we had a long conversation. I can't go into the details but I will say that if what he said represents Hamas, and he said it does, they are prepared to end this war with a long-term ceasefire. My impression is that they are prepared to turn the authority in Gaza over the national reconciliation government, in which they have no representatives. They want to see Gaza rebuilt and are prepared for any kind of international oversight to ensure that building materials go to rebuilding Gaza above ground and not bunkers and tunnels.
Of course the proof for this will be in the arrangements that are agreed on that will enable the end of the siege on Gaza and its reconnection to the West Bank and the rest of the world. If this is true, the goal of the reconciliation government will be to get into operation the international fund and supervisory mechanisms to reconstruct Gaza and to prepare Palestine for new elections.
Holding new elections should be one of Palestine's main goals now in order to elect a government that will represent them as one people in one State which is composed of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.
Hopefully Israel will also move into new elections. Hopefully both sides will elect leaders that will lead us all to peace.
If we do succeed in reaching a long-term ceasefire Israel MUST use the opportunity to launch an Israeli peace initiative on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative. If the Government of Israel refuses to take this direction, it should be charge with crimes against its own people.
Gershon Baskin is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit. His new book, Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel, has been published by Kinneret Zmora Bitan in Hebrew.
Gershon Baskin ist Autor des Aachener Friedensmagazins www.aixpaix.de. Seine Beiträge finden Sie hier