March 8, 2008
Israel weighs novel ideas to counter Hamas rockets
(Page 2 - Previous Page)After announcing Sunday that he was suspending Annapolis follow-up peace talks with Israel to protest its action in Gaza, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas offered Monday to negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
Meanwhile, his Fatah faction staged violent demonstrations against Israel in the West Bank and Jerusalem. All this was designed to show that Abbas is not an Israeli stooge, as Hamas leaders charge.
Still, Abbas would not be unhappy to see Israel topple his Hamas rivals in Gaza, paving the way for his return to power there. Indeed, some Israeli peace advocates see this as the only realistic way forward: Topple Hamas so that Abbas can make peace for all of the Palestinians.
Ayalon and others on the left argue that this is unrealistic. They maintain that the way forward is through a cease-fire that would block Hamas from undermining Abbas' peace efforts. Hamas might well use the cease-fire to build up its arsenal of weapons, but Israel could use that same time to develop a system to intercept rockets and neutralize the Hamas threat -- and to make peace with Abbas.
What Hamas fears most, Ayalon says, is a peace deal with Israel that would erode the wide popular support it now enjoys.
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