Retired Israeli army colonel, Shmuel Gordon, has called on the Israeli government to begin direct talks with Hamas in order to reach a bilateral agreement on prisoner exchange and the release of the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.
Gordon considered the Israeli government’s refusal to engage in direct negotiations with Hamas over Shalit’s release a problem and a significant obstacle to a prisoner exchange deal and criticized the Israeli government for resorting to international mediators. “Israel’s grounds for refusing to talk with Hamas – such as claims that the movement is Israel’s worst enemy and that it continues to fire rockets at Israel – are flimsy arguments that cannot lead to a bilateral agreement over Shalit,” Gordon wrote in an article published by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Sunday, June 19th.
Gordon stressed that it was no longer possible for Israel to ignore talks with Hamas, as the movement is alive and does exist. “Whoever wants an agreement with the Palestinians, and whoever wants the release of Shalit has to move toward direct talks with Hamas; Israel won’t be the first state to negotiate with terrorist organizations, and it won’t be the last,” he wrote.