Former Israeli intelligence chief Efraim Halevy called for negotiations with Hamas, even though it is "inconvenient politically" for both sides to admit this. His remarks came during an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.
"Hamas is a very bad option, undoubtedly. But there are worse options than Hamas," Halevy noted, referring to the other armed groups in Gaza. "And we already know what some of them might be, especially one of them: the [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] ISIS, which has its tentacles in the Gaza Strip too." Halevy said that just as in Europe, ISIS is recruiting in Gaza.
He explained that Israel has negotiated with Hamas in the past: "We have coined a new method of diplomacy in the twenty-first century: We do not meet with them, we do not talk to them, but we listen to them. Each one listens to the other side. Somehow in the end an understanding is crafted."
He continued: "We have had several rounds with Hamas in recent years, and the previous rounds ended up in agreements … arrangements, as it was called – 'arrangements,' not even agreements."
"But in effect it was a negotiation between us and Hamas. When you had the deal on the kidnapped soldier Shalit, we negotiated with Hamas," he added.
However, many Israeli officials on the right would prefer to see an escalation of the conflict rather than negotiate. CNN reported that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also said on Tuesday that Israel should go "all the way", in other words re-occupy the Gaza Strip.