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Middle East Crisis

Israel will have to negotiate with Hamas, says Peter Hain

Israel will have to negotiate with Hamas, says Peter Hain
Former UK minister and anti-apartheid campaigner Lord Peter Hain. (Photo: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images)

Israel will never destroy Hamas militarily and has no choice but to negotiate with its enemy if it wants peace, says British Labour Lord Peter Hain, the former anti-apartheid activist who grew up in South Africa.

Although Israel is damaging Hamas, maybe significantly, Hamas is a movement and an ideology that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ‘extremism’ is helping to promote, Hain writes in the Guardian UK.

Hain said he was writing from Cape Town “where decent South Africans of all races and creeds are contemptuous of what they see as profound double standards by global north leaders – wanting backing for Ukrainian self-determination, but being complicit in the denial of Palestinian self-determination and culpable in the horror in Gaza.

“The geopolitical breach with the global south is deepening, and will cost Washington, London and Brussels dearly in an increasingly turbulent world.”

“I’m a friend to both Israelis and Palestinians, and all my experience tells me this: tough negotiation will achieve what bombs cannot,” Hain writes.

“Rightwing Israeli governments have thwarted serious negotiations with Palestine’s more ‘moderate’ party, the late Yasser Arafat’s Fatah, since the Camp David summit in 2000 – more than 20 years ago.

“They have also consistently oppressed Gaza residents, imposing a near-constant state of siege. Is it really surprising that many Palestinians turned in desperation to an extremist alternative in Hamas?”

Hain, former UK Middle East minister and Northern Ireland secretary of state, said that for decades British governments refused to negotiate with the IRA because of its terrorist outrages.

“But when they finally did so, it resulted in the 1998 Good Friday agreement.”

Hain rebuked leaders of the global north for insisting that Israel should only negotiate “with a discredited Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank” – saying that wouldn’t work either.

“Hamas will have to be included in some way. In the end, the solution has to be political. Palestinians of whatever political stripe cannot defeat Israel militarily, but nor can Israel defeat Palestinians militarily.”

Hain noted that Israel’s rightwing leaders spurned any kind of negotiation, “instead dedicating themselves to turning Palestinian territories into occupied dependencies”.

He said the West Bank, now contained about half a million Israeli settlers;  and East Jerusalem nearly a quarter of a million Israeli settlers.

Leaders in the global north pointed out that such settlements are illegal, “but do nothing, tolerating still more settlers and also the long siege and now near-total destruction of Gaza.

“And what has all this got Israel? Not more security but less, as the pogrom on 7 October palpably demonstrated. Israel’s rightwing rulers have monumentally failed to protect their own citizens – and, by prosecuting their ruthless horror in Gaza, they will endanger them even more.

Hain said former Israeli Labour government adviser Daniel Levy was right to say recently in a TV interview: “Israelis can never have security until Palestinians have security.”

However, Hain suggested the real agenda of the current Israeli cabinet might be to push Palestinians out of their territories and into Jordan and Egypt.

He noted that Israel’s ambassador to the UK (Tzipi Hotovely) had flatly rejected a two-state solution in a recent TV interview.

“No two-state solution, just permanent Israeli domination – with escalating violence and regional instability,” Hain writes.

“The aim surely must remain security for Israel and self-determination for Palestinians. If a two-state solution is no longer viable, then maybe some form of confederal state could be? One in which Palestinians have self-government and Israel enjoys security?

“Instead of presidents and prime ministers in Washington DC, London and Europe colluding in terrible failure, they should support a regional summit involving Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia – and, yes, Iran too – along with Jordan, Qatar and the UAE. For there will be no stability in the region unless all parties are included.” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • peter selwaski says:

    Brits always go halfway. Israel will take this to a conclusion.

  • Steve Du Plessis says:

    What naive drivel. Hamas calls for the destruction of israel. It is antisemitic and wants to kill Jews. In the negotiations should Israel meet then half way?

  • Steve Roskelly says:

    Why are we unable to get to the facts? On one hand we are (reliably) told that Hamas does NOT and WILL NOT negotiate, ever, with Israel. Now, Mr. Hain is telling us otherwise? It is ABUNDANTLY clear, to this writer anyway, that the majority of the Islamic world would love to see Israel dissolve into thin air, the Jews with it. If Israel (and her allies) has anything to do with it, that will never come to pass, and THIS ALONE is the fact that the Palestinians who think so, their “government” (read ‘real oppressors’), and global supporters of their cause (not their current plight) will HAVE to accept and negotiate around.
    As I understand it, the major reason why Israel places severe restrictions on Gaza and its ‘citizens’ is because they fear for their lives in the face of radical extremist Islam from that territory.
    Thousands of Gazan’s used to work in Israel all the time and pass the border daily – how many pass into and out of Egypt? Almost zero.
    How many Islamic ethnic Palestinians and Arabs live and work in Israel, are citizens there and enjoy every right and freedom like all other Israelis? More than a million – but they call Israel an apartheid state.

    In my own view the history is now practically irrelevant – there will never be any peace until the radical Islamist movements in that region (and further afield) give up their warped ideology of the destruction of Israel and all Jews.
    Nobody wants to see death and destruction (except for radical Muslims there who utterly believe in martyrdom in the cause of destroying Jews and Israel) – but if one side is hell-bent on your elimination from the face of the earth, what are you (they) to do?
    Israel have made many mistakes too, but without the intent from both sides to come to a deal, blood will flow.

  • Shaun Slayer says:

    Seriously? You know, since the beginning of this war the media has been misconstruding, (sry I’m Afrikaans, don’t know the correct spelling of that word.) the public. It is as if they don’t know that Hamas is a terrorist organization. Check the National Counterterrorism Center, HAMAS–the acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement) is committed to armed resistance against Israel and the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state in Israel’s place. Key 1948 document defines genocide as killing ‘with intent to destroy…a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.’ It says nothing about terrorist organizations. Why does the media always miss this? Ok, so rewind a bit. This terrorist organization attacks a group of party goers at a rave celebrating life. Israel military decides to respond and nearly every story I read here on DM is about how Israel is causing a genocide. This countries government has actually filed a case of genocide with the UN’s top court. Refer to Key 1948 document. Go check out this page. and then tell me where I am missing the point here.

    • dexter m says:

      Well we do know you are not a Afrikaner , all Afrikaners i know are great English linguists . I would suggest you read the 84 page brief submitted to the ICJ can find a on the BBC news website. The majority of evidence submitted are from Israeli sources.

      • g k says:

        What we do know is that everything the ANC touches turns into a mess, why read this 84 page document as they will have got something very wrong.

    • David van der Want says:

      This conflict did not start on 7 October 2023. It might currently being called a war but the extremist ideology that underpins the military of Hamas is rooted in a long history. Where it begins depends on who you ask but at a minimum with the British. Here’s Winston Churchill in 1937 “”I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.” That’s talking to the royal commission on Palestine. This is way more complex than any one view on it can encompass.

      • D'Esprit Dan says:

        Churchill was a man of his time and the quote you provide is one that illustrates just what a racist he was. Would you use that argument in South Africa to justify colonialism and apartheid?

        • David van der Want says:

          I am using that quote to illustrate the zeitgeist in which a racist comment like Churchill’s could be made and which was at least a part of the establishment of the state of Israel and which facilitated the Nakba. I cannot see how you would reason that I would use this to justify any disciminatory practice.

          • D'Esprit Dan says:

            Sorry, re-reading your post I see what you were getting at. My mistake.

    • Enver Klein says:

      The point that you are missing is that, in 2017, HAMAS agreed to stop military action if the 1967 borders and the 2-state solution was adhered to. But what did Israel do? Continued to build settlements in the West Bank and in September 2023, Netanyahu, showcased his “new” Middle East Map, with no trace of Palestine. People keep harping on HAMAS being “hell-bent” on eradicating Israel, but HAMAS does not have the facilities to do so. However, Israel is “hell-bent” on removing all trace of Palestine and continue to do so.

  • Robin Rain says:

    Peter Hain – the expert Brit with the same talking points that seem now to have receded – only to be seen in the review mirror. The two-state solution is not a fait accompli and no Israel doesn’t have to negotiate with Hamas, because there won’t be a Hamas to negotiate with. Israel is intent on killing every Hamas leader. If history is the best predictor of future events, by turning down a two-state solution and killing Israelis, the Palestinians may be doomed to never have a state at all. It’s far more likely that Gaza will become an enlarged Gush Katif, with or without South Africa bleating to the ICJ while it turns a blind eye to the Mullahs in Iran and Putin’s adventurous war effort

    • John P says:

      Even if every Hamas leader is killed there will not be peace. As long as the Palestinians do not have their own state or are not included in a joint Israeli Palestinian state they will continue to fight. A new movement will come into being born out of the same desperation that created Hamas and the cycle will continue.

      • D'Esprit Dan says:

        Spot on.

      • Robin Rain says:

        You mean like a new Nazi Germany? Where’s your evidence for this or is this mere speculation? Apparently, according to many Middle East experts, Hamas attacked Israel on the 7th of October precisely because the “Palestinian cause”, was no longer of significance to other Arab countries willing to make peace with Israel. There is a lot of noise currently, with South Africa’s bravado in taking Israel to the ICJ, which in the end will amount to nothing. Israel will do what it has to do to defend its citizens – irrespective. Where’s the moral outrage with what is closer to home like Darfur where Africans are being slaughtered by Islamic butchers or by Boko Haram – killing and kidnapping Nigerian children? Where’s the ANC outrage? This is being pushed by the ANC and a small cohort of vocal radical Islamists. They don’t care about Palestinians. It’s the obsession with Jews and Israel fuelling this behaviour.

        • Jacques de Villiers says:

          Was that what fuelled Mandela’s and Desmond Tutu’s stances against the Israeli apartheid state? Were these two men, among the most principled advocates of human equality in recent memory, secretly motivated by “the obsession with Jews and Israel” hatred? Or was it the far more obvious fact, desperately obscured by baseless accusations of antisemitism, that Israel displaced and occupied another people’s land and homes, a ethno-national project that began in 1948 and continues to this day under conditions of apartheid eerily familiar to any South African? This is the reality and backdrop, which long preceded October 7th and served as the overwhelming motivation for the brutal, repugnant attacks.

          So we could begin with this morally bankrupt backdrop, which is Palestinians’ quotidian reality. We can then assess how the most rightwing government in Israel’s history is using October 7 to ethnically cleanse the descendants of the people it did the same thing to in 1948. We can condemn Hamas and begin demanding an end to the genocide and an end to the apartheid regime that created this mess in the first place, thus removing the single greatest cause of the victims’ pain and grievance. Or we can flee from reality with cries of antisemitism and watch history repeat and war criminals get away with murder.

          (and please don’t bore me with claims that Gaza is self-governed. A very brief perusal of the historical record around the sham Oslo Accords with disabuse one of this absurd notion)

          • Robin Rain says:

            Do you like using well-worn facile tropes?
            1. How is there Apartheid in Israel when Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis have equal rights and work side by side? An Arab judge sent Israeli Prime Minister – Ehud Olmert to jail for corruption
            2 Desmond Tutu made significant strides in opposing Apartheid, yet his extensive record reveals a troubling animosity towards the Jewish community, their faith, and the state of Israel. He wasn’t just a believer in anti-Semitism; he actively encouraged and validated anti-Jewish sentiments among his numerous supporters globally.
            3. Israel is not a colonialist enterprise. Israelis are more rooted in the state of Israel than black South Africans. South Africa’s first known inhabitants have been referred to as the Khoisan, the Khoekhoe and the San. Starting in about 1,000 BCE, these groups were then joined by people who migrated from Western and Central Africa. For centuries they endured dispossession and were decimated by waves of black settlers. The land of Israel contains thousands of years worth of history inside it. Does the Qumran Region and the Dead Sea Scrolls mean anything to you or the First Temple-Era Wall in the City of David or Bar Kochba? Judaism preceded Islam. If anything Muslims are the invaders
            4. Israel has reached its hand out in peace to the Palestinians on numerous occasions. They don’t want “peace”. They want it all
            5. Israel left Gaza in 2005. They took out every settler. Hamas murdered Palestinians, Gays and anyone who didn’t conform to Islamic fundamentalism and started shooting rockets into Israel. In response, Israel barricaded their borders.
            6. How can there be a genocide when the Palestinian population has grown by a million over the past decade? The holocaust was a genocide. Hitler murdered six million Jews in six years. Israelis are not trying to commit genocide. Hamas hide behind civilians in schools, churches, mosques and hospitals
            I suggest you educate yourself, Jacques!

          • Ben Harper says:

            Thank you Robert!

  • Nick Griffon says:

    You do not negotiate with terrorists.

  • Tim Bester says:

    Lord Haine has reached his sell by date and he should now enjoy his retirement from public discourse.

    • Alley Cat says:

      Tim, whilst I too reviled this man when he rightly (I now believe with maturity and hindsight) initiated boycotts against the apartheid state, he has since our 1994 elections been a true supporter of South African citizens (not our so-called current “government”) and was instrumental and vocal in the demise of Bell Pottinger who caused so much harm to our country at the behest of the Guptas and shower head as well as Bain and co. who also damaged our state.
      We should thank him for his support and actions. He is a respected voice who many around the world actually listen to, unlike Ramaphosa and his cadres. Read Hain’s book, he truly loves South Africa.
      I remind you that NO war has ever been won militarily. The only solution is a political one.

    • Bill Gild says:

      Nonsense! Lord Hain is a highly intelligent and worldly individual, who, unlike most of the ANC cabinet, can not only string a sentence together, but make sense.

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      Why? Because his opinions don’t match yours? Where would SA be if the Nats and ANC continued down that line? The point is that you have to, at some stage, actually talk to one another to find solutions, no matter how far apart your starting positions are. As happened here and in Ireland and the Basque region of Spain, to name a few so-called ‘intractable conflicts’.

      • Bill Gild says:

        Wholeheartedly agreed!

      • g k says:

        South Africa had peace because the soviet union died and the ANC lost money sponsor. Northern Ireland found peace because the IRA lost their funding from the american bars in boston, because the americans woke up and discovred that the IRA were terrorists. All about the money, at this stage, Israel has USA and Hamas has Iran for their money. There wont be peace for quite a long time.

  • Bob Dubery says:

    The reference to the Good Friday Agreement is useful. That was the result of two forces with seemingly irreconcilable demands and desires sitting down around a negotiating table with other players in Northern Island and coming to an agreement that has held up pretty well. Northern Island is still British rule, still loyal to the Crown, but the people on both sides enjoy far greater peace and security.

    It’s unpalatable to sit down with people you regard as your sworn enemies, but it can produce a good, lasting solution.

  • André Pelser says:

    A common definition of terrorism and terrorist organisation is probably the best point of departure in this discussion. The NP negotiated with the ANC, then labelled as a terrorist organisation, so did the Uk government with the IRA, as Hain has pointed out – both interactions resulted in a cessation of violent conflict.
    The religious dimension in the Palestinian/Israeli is the fundamental difference, in a recent interview Noam Chomsky spoke about religious nationalism. One could add to this the enduring enmity between radical followers of the Islamic and Jewish faiths and contests for homeland territory.
    It is common knowledge that the current state boundaries everywhere are constructs of imperial and colonial powers, it is widely accepted that redrawing these borders fairly and properly is impossible.
    In an increasingly interdependent global community, the concepts of sovereignty and self-determination must be applied with circumspection.
    The idea that an agreement between Islamic states and Israel, supported by the international community, including Russia, China and India, is necessary for any stability in Israel, Gaza and Palestinians is sound, but unless Islamic states that actively promote the destruction of Israel and Jews are stopped by their fellow Islamists, not just the West, there will be continued conflict.
    But a more pragmatic Israeli government is also necessary.
    A possible step in the right direction in this process would be to declare Jerusalem a universal heritage site, managed by a inclusive body, which ensures fair and equal treatment of all believers.

  • Melvyn Minnaar says:

    I am always astounded at the bloodthirstiness of some commentators. Have they forgotten our own history? Only hard negotiation will perhaps rescue something from
    this bloodletting horror…

  • Gavin Weir says:

    I agree with Lord Hain’s analysis about the current Gaza crisis. My view is that Gaza and the West Bank need to be placed under international UN protection with Israel having no right of control over Gaza and the West Bank. In return Israel’s security would be confirmed by the use of security zones managed by an International Peace Keeping Force.
    The UN would then have the task of the reconstruction of Gaza and building authentic political and economic structures in Gaza and the West Bank, as was the case in Germany after World War. In addition the UN will need to address the failure of Israel to honour international agreements concerning the land rights of the Palestinians.
    A central factor in the success of this effort will be the public agreement of the ally of Israel- the USA and the sponsor of Hamas -Qatar to such arrangements.

  • Esskay Esskay says:

    Difficult to negotiate with a people who are sworn to your death and destruction. First recognise Israel’s right to exist – good starting point. Why is no one calling on Hamas to surrender and release hostages as a starting point? Always up to Israel to start the peace process?

  • dexter m says:

    well seems only posts that are pro zionist narrative are passing moderation ?

  • Debbie Annas says:

    Where there is a will there is a way, as South Africa as well as Rwanda have proven. There are no quick fixes after decades of oppression and violence, history proves this. Israel’s reasoning is old testimentical and has no place in a modern world.

  • Coen Gous says:

    ….and once again, the insulting comments from many subscribers, most of whom can never find a way to open their sleepy eyes.

  • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

    How it will be nice for the pro Zionist supporters for Hamas to evaporate and Palestinians wiped out and the remainder taken to Congo, then they wake up and realise it was not just a dream but a nightmare, Hamas committed terror no different from America, Israel and the rest before and after the terror they are a militant organisation and an armed resistance who is liberating the Palestinians and all those who stand for peace in that land support Hamas,even those who are pro Israel when they admit to the wrongs there they indirectly support the Hamas cause even if not completely, Mr Hain nails it we can ignore him to our peril ww3 will be a huge mess we cannot be stubborn to the point of destruction

  • dexter m says:

    Can someone pls tell me how Israel on its current trajectory aids its and diaspora Jews long term security. I even do not argue the fact of self defense , but really the means to achieve that .

    • Enver Klein says:

      If Israel is successful in having all Palestinians “deported” to other countries, they will not have any security as they could be attacked without the attackers need to consider Palestinians.

    • dexter m says:

      Ben Gurion had 3 core tenets for the survival of Israel .
      1. Have a strong patron and maintain that relationship.
      2. Never to be seen as the aggressor.
      3. Always maintain a favourable opinion of the western nations public.
      The current policies and actions are damaging all the above.

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