Gaza: Short-range peace-seeking Israel could try

What might Israel do differently from what it is doing to stop the rockets — without regard to US policy or longer-range peacemaking?

It is pretty clear that Hamas in Gaza is not just a "terrorist gang" but is deeply interwoven with the fabric of Gazan society, through its social-welfare and religious networks. That means influence goes in both directions.

So this sketch would mix carrots and sticks in an attempt to engage the Gazan and broader Palestinian civil society in having a stake in peacemaking, as well as the Hamas elites. (Of course specifics are not sealed in concrete but an effort to point in new directions.)

Step 1: Israel announces the following commitments, including those to go into effect one year from now:

Israel will now withdraw ground troops from Gaza and halt the present air attacks, and will (a) unconditionally and permanently halt all assassinations; and (b) for every month of no rockets (or practically no; say under ten a month, the number that seem to have been fired during the six-month cease-fire by underground terror groups despite Hamas' orders), reciprocate with a month of massive easing of the blockade and embargo, allowing & encouraging European traffic / aid of food, fuel, medicine, and commercial /industrial goods for civilian production; will open Gaza ports to traffic from abroad (while boarding incoming vessels to prevent transmission of arms); and will ask the Europeans, Americans, and other Muslim countries to supply schoolbooks and other school supplies in math, biology, and other non-political areas.

Step Back: After any month in which the rockets rose above ten, this commerce would be halted for a month and Israel would be free for a month to attack specific sites (and only those) from which it had evidence that rockets were being fired. Then if rocket attacks dropped below ten in the ensuing month, the bargain would resume for a month.

Step 2: If this regime worked for three months in a row AND if Gidon Shalit were released, Israel would halt all home demolitions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and would release from its prisons all members of Hamas who had been elected to the Palestinian parliament.

Step 3: If this regime worked for six months in a row AND if Gidon Shalit had been released, Israel would compensate up to half their value owners of homes and other civilian properties destroyed or damaged after December 26; would release from its prisons all women Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank, and all Palestinians under 16 and over 60; and would begin direct meetings between high Israeli and Hamas officials.

Step 4: That if this regime worked for twelve months in a row, Israel would formally recognize and negotiate with Hamas as the de facto government of Gaza; would support and agree to recognize a national government freely elected by the people of the West Bank and Gaza; and would enter into a region-wide negotiation seeking full peace among Israel; a Palestinian state including the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza; all Arab states; and Iran.

Big Step back: That if the regime failed for three months in a row, Israel would undertake on-the-ground Special Forces attacks limited to weapons productions and rocket-firing sites, NOT including air attacks of the present sort.

Shalom, salaam, peace — Arthur

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director, The Shalom Center; co-author, The Tent of Abraham; author of Godwrestling — Round 2, Down-to-Earth Judaism, and a dozen other books on Jewish thought and practice, as well as books on US public policy. The Shalom Center voices a new prophetic agenda in Jewish, multireligious, and American life. To receive the weekly on-line Shalom Report, click on --