Leftist parties against negotiations with Hamas

Beilin: Another unilateral withdrawal would be a present.

beilin 88 (photo credit: )
beilin 88
(photo credit: )
While parties on the left have traditionally been Israel's most outspoken proponents for dialogue with the Palestinians, it appeared Monday that they too would not negotiate with Hamas. "With Hamas, it is very clear," said Yossi Beilin, leader of the liberal Meretz Party. "Nobody will talk with them until they meet two conditions: renunciation of terrorism and recognition of Israel." Beilin's statement was echoed by others in his Meretz Party, as well as members of Labor and independent politicians, who all said that Hamas, in its present state, was not a partner for peace. What that meant remained unclear, as many of the liberal parties admitted an active pursuit of the peace process has become a corner stone of their platforms. Most insisted that it was too early, and that Israel would "wait and see" how Hamas handled its power before it took on steps of its own. "It's too early to see what will happen," said Yariv Oppenheimer, the director of the Peace Now organization that advocates an evacuation of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria. Oppenheimer also ran for a slot on the Labor Part list. "Anybody willing to talk with Israel and work towards peace could be a partner," he added. The day following the Hamas victory, Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz also announced that he would not negotiate with Hamas. "We have no intention of allowing negotiations to take place, or of allowing a third party to force us to recognize an organization that openly seeks to destroy Israel," Peretz said. Belin added that as Hamas appeared to be making no move to recognize Israel as a state, no more unilateral withdrawals should be made. "A unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank now would be like wrapping a present for Hamas," said Beilin. He added, however, that Israel should continue to talk with the PLO and see if it could reach an agreement through that body that would be acceptable to both sides. "We cannot impose ourselves on Hamas," said Beilin. "But the PLO has always been our legal partner." On Sunday, Meretz faction chairwoman Zehava Gal-On advocated that Israel withdraw from Judea and Samaria and place the area under the authority of an international body. "Israel must end the occupation through dialogue with the Palestinians, but it's unclear if it is possible to do so through negotiations at this stage," she said. "The solution cannot be another unilateral exit, which means shirking of responsibility over what Israel is leaving behind." Gal-On's proposal suggested that international troops would lessen friction between Palestinian and Israeli forces. The proposal stemmed from a Meretz platform three years ago. "I'm not sure if this is still realistic," said Beilin, who added that Meretz was meeting Thursday to discuss the issue.