February 20, 2014 at 3:34 pm
A member of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, has called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to rethink the country's relationship with Hamas. Speaking to Israel Radio on Wednesday, MK Nachman Shai called on Netanyahu to take advantage of a "small window of opportunity" created by the release of Gilad Shalit and take the initiative by starting a dialogue with the Islamic Resistance Movement and the Palestinian Authority.
Shai, a member of the opposition Kadima Party, said that it is now also possible to ease the security blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip: "The goal [of the blockade] was not to make Gaza starve. It was to put pressure on the government of Hamas to get Shalit back." He pointed out that "economic peace" could limit the desire of "terrorist" organisations to engage in violence.
The first phase of the prisoner swap deal between Hamas and Israel which saw Sergeant Shalit's release was completed on Tuesday. The second phase, which will see a further 550 Palestinian prisoners released, will take place in two months if the full terms of the deal struck between Hamas and Israel are fulfilled.