Ex-Israeli Security Chief Diskin: ‘All the Conditions Are There for an Explosion’

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Julia Amalia Heyer interviews Yuval Diskin, in Spiegel (photo: Reuters):

SPIEGEL: What about Israel talking directly with Hamas?

Diskin: That won't be possible. Really, only the Egyptians can credibly mediate. But they have to put a more generous offer on the table: the opening of the border crossing from Rafah into Egypt, for example. Israel must also make concessions and allow more freedom of movement.

SPIEGEL: Are those the reasons why Hamas provoked the current escalation?

Diskin: Hamas didn't want this war at first either. But as things often are in the Middle East, things happened differently. It began with the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. From what I read and from what I know about how Hamas operates, I think that the Hamas political bureau was taken by surprise. It seems as though it was not coordinated or directed by them.

SPIEGEL: Netanyahu, though, claimed that it was and used it as a justification for the harsh measures against Hamas in the West Bank, measures that also targeted the joint Hamas-Fatah government.

Diskin: Following the kidnapping of the teenagers, Hamas immediately understood that they had a problem. As the army operation in the West Bank expanded, radicals in the Gaza Strip started launching rockets into Israel and the air force flew raids into Gaza. Hamas didn't try to stop the rockets as they had in the past. Then there was the kidnapping and murder of the Palestinian boy in Jerusalem and this gave them more legitimacy to attack Israel themselves.

SPIEGEL: How should the government have reacted instead?

Diskin: It was a mistake by Netanyahu to attack the unity government between Hamas and Fatah under the leadership of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israel should have been more sophisticated in the way it reacted. We should have supported the Palestinians because we want to make peace with everybody, not with just two-thirds or half of the Palestinians. An agreement with the unity government would have been more sophisticated than saying Abbas is a terrorist. But this unity government must accept all the conditions of the Middle East Quartet. They have to recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and recognize all earlier agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

SPIEGEL: The possibility of a third Intifada has been mentioned repeatedly in recent days, triggered by the ongoing violence in the Gaza Strip.

Diskin: Nobody can predict an Intifada because they aren't something that is planned. But I would warn against believing that the Palestinians are peaceful due to exhaustion from the occupation. They will never accept the status quo of the Israeli occupation. When people lose hope for an improvement of their situation, they radicalize.

More here.

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