Hamas 'Not the Worst Option' Says Former Mossad Head

Efraim Halevy says that Islamic militants ISIS are already involved in Gaza; Israel and Hamas have been negotiating for years and should do so again.

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Haaretz
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Efraim Halevy, on the right, with Avi Benayahu, former army spokesman, on left.
Efraim Halevy, on the right, with Avi Benayahu, former army spokesman, on left.Credit: Moti Kimche
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Haaretz

"There are worse options than Hamas," former Mossad head Efraim Halevy said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

Halevy added that Israel should negotiate with Hamas, saying that while it was “inconvenient politically” for Israel and Hamas to acknowledge that they negotiate with each other, in reality they have been doing it for years.

“We have coined a new method of diplomacy in the twenty-first century: we don’t meet with them, we don’t talk to them, but we listen to them," Halevy said. "Each one listens to the other side. Somehow in the end an understanding is crafted.”

“We have had several rounds with Hamas in recent years, and the previous rounds ended up in agreements … arrangements, as it was called. But in effect it was a negotiation between us and Hamas. When you had the deal on the kidnapped soldier Shalit, we negotiated with Hamas.”

While acknowledging that “Hamas is a very bad option," Halevy said that the Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria were a lot worse.

“And we already know what some of them might be, especially one of them: ISIS – which is operating now in northern and central Iraq – has its tentacles in the Gaza Strip too.”

ISIS, Halevy said, was recruiting in Gaza, just as it was recruiting in Europe.

The former Mossad chief said that he did not “detect for the moment any great appetite on the part of the prime minister to go, at least in the immediate future, into anything beyond air attacks and maybe here or there a ground skirmish.”

Netanyahu, he added, "wants to lead Hamas into a position where they will accept the cease-fire,” leaving a “cowed Hamas, a weakened Hamas” in power in Gaza.

“Israel has no appetite to take over responsibility for the population in Gaza,” he said.

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