Former Mossad Chief: Now is the time to talk to Hamas, and Liberman may be the one to do so

Efraim Halevy says at JPost Conference that "the leadership of Hamas knows they have no chance of destroying Israel."

May 22, 2016 23:16
2 minute read.
JPost Annual Conference 2016

Efraim Halevy at JPost Annual Conference . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The time has come for Israel to speak to Hamas, and there is likelihood that the next Defense Minister, Avigdor Liberman, will be the one to do so, according to former Mossad Chief Efraim Halevy.

Speaking at the Jerusalem Post Conference in New York City on Sunday, Halevy said “the leadership of Hamas knows they have no chance of destroying Israel. Now is the time to talk to Hamas and I wouldn’t be surprised if Liberman is the one to do this.”

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Halevy argued that Israel doesn’t need to fear the influence of Iran over Hamas, saying “Hamas is no longer linked to Iran; they are adrift from Iran and looking for ways to reach out to Israel.”

Halevy’s statements about Hamas came shortly after he asserted that that he believes Israel “is indestructible” and that there are no existential threats facing Israel, not from Hamas in the south or Hezbollah in the north, and that the only existential threat facing the country is the loss of its Jewish majority.

Halevy’s comments on the panel ran counter to those made by former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who said that “I don’t think we can talk to Hamas, Hamas do not recognize Israel. They are an enemy state and we should treat them as an enemy.”

He added that “this doesn’t mean we can’t ease the pressure on the population and I think we have to assist them as far as we can, but we cannot compromise with terror.”

The panel discussion was entitled “Does the world have an answer to Islamic terror?”, and also featured Likud MK Dr. Anat Berko, a former IDF Lieutenant Colonel and lecturer or security issues, as well as Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post deputy managing editor.

Berko said during her comments that she believes that jihadists have a duda that drives their enthusiasm for political violence, using a street Hebrew term that describes an addict’s craving for drugs.

“They have a very familiar mindset to junkies, a duda, the compulsive feeling of a drug addict who wants his next fix. They are thinking about everything that is forbidden in this world.”

She also said that in order to fight terror, “we must stop with this PC [political correctness] and tell the truth, don’t try to put it in a nice way or you miss the way to define the enemy.”

Though the discussion was meant to tackle the war on terror, Ashkenazi was also asked about recent shakeups in Israeli politics, including the resignation of Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and the expectation that Avigdor Liberman will take his post and how that could affect Israel’s ties with the United States.

“I think that [former foreign minister] Mr. Liberman has demonstrated as foreign minster a pragmatic approach in his relationship with the United States. I think the relationship is deep rooted in both defense establishments and I would not be worried about the nature of this relationship or the depth of understanding.”

Ashkenazi, seen as a possible national political figure in the near future, said when asked by Jerusalem Post Editor in Chief Yaakov Katz about his plans only that “you’ll do your job I’ll do mine.”

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