Hamas Offers Yet Another Cease Fire

Hamas leader signals halt to attacks on Israelis (MSNBC-AP)

A senior Hamas leader indicated Monday that the militant group is halting attacks on Israelis while the Palestinians prepare to choose a new leader, the latest sign of change following the death of Yasser Arafat. Sheik Hassan Yousef, the group̢۪s top leader in the West Bank, said Hamas also would consider a formal truce with Israel. Hamas has carried out dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks, killing hundreds of Israelis during four years of fighting.

Since Arafat’s death Nov. 11, there has been a sharp drop in violence. The Palestinians have turned their attention to Jan. 9 presidential elections, while Israel has curtailed its military activity and made a series of gestures meant to ensure that the vote goes smoothly. “In the current situation, many political and militant groups have halted their attacks. They are waiting and exploring the new era,” said Yousef, who was recently released from an Israeli prison after serving a 28-month sentence.

He also said that Hamas would consider a formal cease-fire, if Israel reciprocates. He said Israel must be prepared to release Palestinian prisoners, withdraw from occupied land and stop targeted killings of militants. “The truce should have a price,” he said. “There is no truce from one side. The truce should be two-way. But a truce with continued Israeli aggression is not acceptable to us.”

So, in order to stop committing murder, Hamas wants previous murderers released and for Israel to stop going after murderers who haven’t been caught. And, if all goes as it has for the past two generations, these people will soon be out killing Israeli civilians again once they don’t get their way on some issue or another.

I’m guessing the Israelis will view this offer with some skepticism.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.