Hamas gov't offers Israel 'quiet for quiet'
Hamas has been sending go-betweens to Israel recently with an offer to reach an unofficial understanding on "quiet in return for quiet." According to the proposal, conveyed to Israel by, among others, Egyptian envoys, Hamas would pledge not to carry out any violent actions against Israel and would even prevent other Palestinian organizations from doing so. Israel, for its part, would pledge by means of a third party not to take action against the organizations operating in the territories. Hamas is even prepared to declare a unilateral hudna (cease-fire), should Israel not want to appear to be maintaining contact with a body that calls for its destruction. According to this offer, Israel is supposed to respond with positive measures of its own.
Political and defense officials in Israel define the initiative as a "trick." They say the quiet will be temporary, and Hamas people will consider themselves free to suspend it anytime they like. Since the Oslo Accords were first signed, in 1993, Hamas has made Israel some 10 offers to declare a cease-fire, usually when the organization was in need of "a breather" to reorganize its ranks. The last time Hamas came out with a declaration of this sort was after the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, in June 2001, but it was violated a short while later. In the past, Israel rejected such offers outright.
However, unlike previous proposals, this time Hamas is not giving as a condition for the cease-fire the demand that Israel withdraw to the 1967 border and release all Palestinians jailed in Israel. Hamas is under internal and international pressure, and therefore is trying to achieve quiet in its fight against Israel in order to organize, strengthen its military and organizational frameworks, and sideline the Palestinian opposition. This would enable the new Hamas-led government to fortify its control over Palestinian Authority territories. Israel will apparently refrain from reaching understandings with Hamas so as not to play into its hands at this point, before Hamas has met the conditions posed by the international community: not just disavowing violence, but also recognizing Israel and adopting all agreements signed with Israel in the past.