Israel should try to negotiate a long-term truce with Hamas, Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy said Friday, breaking away from a broad consensus in Israel that the Islamic militants must be shunned.
Halevy was the first senior Israeli security official to propose reaching a deal with the Islamic militants who have killed more than 250 Israelis in scores of attacks.
Israel and Hamas could reach an understanding based on their mutual desire for a long-term truce, he said.
In an interview aired Saturday morning on Israel Radio's Reshet B station, howeverm Halevy presented a more conservative approach, saying that the U.S. brokered road map peace plan came into conflict with Israel's interests.
The former Mossad chief said the initiative poses a threat to Israel's sovereignty in Jerusalem.
Halevy's proposal to talk to Hamas goes against the government's current policy which states it will only deal with the Hamas government if it renounces violence, recognizes Israel and accepts existing peace agreement. Hamas has refused to meet these conditions, but has largely stuck to an informal truce since February 2005.
Hamas must commit not to carry out attacks and must accept past Israeli-Palestinian agreements before talks on a long-term truce can begin, Halevy said in a telephone interview.
"I think that now is not the right time for a permanent status agreement since it's not possible because of the great hatred between the sides," Halevy said.
"But if Hamas wants ... a long-term armistice, there is a meeting between the (desire of) the two sides."
Such an understanding could be the basis for future negotiations on interim borders between the two entities, Halevy said.
The former Mossad head is currently on a public relations tour promoting his new book "Man in the Shadows." He recently appeared as a guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show.