Hamas is evidently in distress and its leaders are signaling that they would be prepared for a compromise in exchange for opening crossings and transferring supplies. Sources close to Hamas insist that there is a willingness among Hamas leaders to advance a long-term ceasefire.
Israel is currently enjoying clear tactical superiority and it appears that it is holding the entire deck of cards. The easy solution is to lead the area to almost total collapse, or alternately, as army officers and Knesset members have been saying recently, "to allow them to keep their heads above water."
However, it would be a mistake to boycott Hamas. The rational mode of action would be to listen to what its leadership has to say and to try and reach an agreement with them.
The hysterical calls are blinding us from seeing the positive sides of the Hamas takeover. Following years of idleness on the part of Mahmoud Abbas and his cabinet, Hamas has begun restoring an organized rule in the Strip. The leadership is intent on disarming the militias, cutting the clans down to their natural size, and running the area as a government. The Palestinian Authority never did this. In my opinion, Hamas has a reasonable chance of succeeding; unfortunately, probably more so than Abbas in the West Bank.
Stories of the brutality of Hamas and its rule of terror are widespread, but let's not feign innocence. Fatah's preventative security officers who interrogated their rivals in Gaza were no less brutal. And had they been the victors we would have probably witnessed similar shocking scenes. The Hamas regime is no less violent or arbitrary than other Arab regimes.
The past days have demonstrated that the organization is not seeking to intensify the struggle against Israel. Its reasons for this are obviously tactical. The organization has not relinquished its aspiration to annihilate the Zionist state and it will continue pursing this goal covertly. However, at this time Hamas is in need of calm in order to build the area under its control, and to this end it would be prepared for calm.
Simply put, if it so wishes, Hamas would be able to realize what Fatah has been promising for years but was unable to do – restore calm in the Gaza Strip and end the Qassam rocket fire.
Hamas' long-term plan to annihilate Israel should not intimidate us. We should be aware of it, but at the same time we should make it clear to Hamas that if it is seeking calm, we too would be happy to oblige, and if they are seeking a 10-year ceasefire we shall sit face to face or via Saudi mediation and define the conditions for such an armistice.
If on the one hand we succeed in securing an agreement that would include absolute calm, limitations on weapon supplies and border inspection, along with the release of captives, procedures for provision of food commodities, entry of laborers into Israel and opening of the border with Egypt – this would prove beneficial for all parties involved.
Albeit it being true that we should bolster Mahmoud Abbas and prove to the Palestinian and Arab worlds that moderation is the way to go, Israel's basic position should be clear: A willingness to enter dialogue with any Arab or Palestinian element that so wishes, including radical Islamic movements. Only recognition of our existence would be reciprocated with a comprehensive peace agreement; however, willingness for calm and a ceasefire should also be reciprocated by Israel.
And what will happen in 2017? It is likely that in a decade from now Hamas would succeed in organizing, gathering weapons, and threatening our security. However, as we have seen, this probability exists even without a ceasefire as well as in circumstances of ongoing warfare. Contrary to this, perhaps after 10 years of calm, conditions and standards of living may be created that even Hamas would be interested in maintaining, and perhaps even an ideological shift would occur in the Gaza Strip.