If Hamas "wants" and "asks" to engage in negotiations with Israel, I would be a willing partner, attested former defense minister Shaul Mofaz on Israel Radio Tuesday. He stressed, however, that if the Iranian-backed group continues its arms race and attacks on Israel, the fate of the movement and its leaders will be "sealed."
Following his Monday comments that he would even speak with Satan's messenger in order to bring peace, and after his spokeswoman confirmed that Mofaz intends to meet in the near future with senior Hamas officials pending approval by legal advisers, the Kadima MK attempted to clarify with whom, and under which terms, he would indeed engage in talks.
"I'm willing to speak with anyone who is the Palestinians' chosen representative," the former IDF chief of staff said.
"I was the one who fought Hamas through the crosshairs of an Apache [assault helicopter], I stood behind the assassinations of [Sheikh Ahmed] Yassin and [Abdel Aziz] Rantisi and did everything I could to halt the suicide-bombers' terror from Judea and Samaria during Operation Defensive Shield, and was in charge of the ongoing hits on top Hamas figures between 2003-2005 in Gaza. Nobody can doubt what I think about Hamas," he concluded.
Mofaz proceeded to slam criticism of his willingness to consider Hamas a partner, which he said attested to the critics' own shortcomings, and blasted the current government for what he considers a lack of strategic planning.
"People with no plan, no vision and no ability to courageously present a plan of their own, see the cup as half empty instead of half full," he said. "Our leaders are wont to say, 'We will overturn every stone, and do this, that and the other,' but nobody is prepared, or has presented a plan."
At the same time, however, Mofaz took care to stress that his extended open hand to Hamas might take a different, implicitly violent form, if the group does not put down its arms.
"If Hamas continues to add more and more missiles to its arsenal and launches long-range projectiles into Israel - its fate will be sealed, the fate of the organization and its leaders. But if [Hamas] is chosen by the Palestinians as their elected and legitimate representation, and will want, and ask, to sit around a negotiation table in order to reach a treaty, I repeat - I am willing to sit down with them," he said.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.