This unnecessary war, which has claimed so many lives already, and which has kept two populations in terror (but only one in constant suffering) can be ended quickly. The cease-fire conditions are clear: ending the rocket fire from Gaza, ending the siege on Gaza, new elections in the West Bank and Gaza, which will be recognized by Israel. Beyond that, serious negotiations could be commenced for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Israel should not make the cessation of weapons smuggling a condition for a cease fire, or for indirect relations with Hamas. I am sorry to see that Meretz USA, which came out with a fine statement otherwise, has called for "the verifiable termination of weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip" as a condition for a cease-fire. I have no problem with that, provides that it calls for an arms embargo on Israel as well. Jews smuggled weapons to Palestine before there was a Jewish state, and the idea that Gaza and the West Bank should be left at the mercy of Israel, or NATO, or whatever, is immoral as well as stupid – immoral, because it says that one side has a right to self-defence and the other does not, stupid, because it reinforces the Israeli narrative that the Palestinians are the aggressors, which plays into feelings of Palestinian resentment, and which encourages extremists. Had Hamas not smuggled – and used – weapons, would Meretz USA be calling today for an end to the siege on Gaza? (For the Meretz USA statement, see Richard Silverstein's Tikun Olam blog here).
Beyond that, the Palestinians have to get their act together, and stop their own internal fighting. That means democratically-conducted elections whose results are accepted not only by Israel, but by the world. If Hamas runs Palestine, fine – but a condition for their joining the community of nations will be behaving like one – ditto for Israel. Hamas has already laid out the conditions – reasonable conditions, I might add – for its living in peace with Israel: withdrawal to 67 boundaries and a just solution to the refugees. Hamas doesn't recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. Big deal. Israel doesn't recognize Hamas, or a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, either. Lots of states don't recognize other states. For years Egypt and Jordan didn't recognize Israel. Did that mean that Israel did not conduct indirect negotations with them?
The world's policy of isolating Hamas has failed. If the world believes in a two-state solution, it will have to get used to the possibility that Hamas will be running the Palestinian state – not permanently, of course, because the Palestinians, like Israelis, will periodically throw the bums out.
But another solution -- a "one state" or "federal" solution, may provide a better answer to the fundamentalists on both sides. There would be no fear of the Palestinian state being dominated by Hamas because the Palestinians wouldn't have their own state, but they would share it with the Israelis. With the Israelis overwhelmingly secular (and with the Palestinians "traditionalists" who could go either way), a one-state solution, with a constitution that would take into account the various factions, may be the better way to go.
Of course, it is not the way that either Israel or Palestine will go. The day may not be too long when Hamas wins control of the West Bank. Israel seems bent on doing everything it can to ensure that possibility. It will then be able to go to the world and say, "What do you want from us; we have terrorists on both our sides."
It won't be pleasant living in Gaza or the West Bank. But it won't be pleasant living in Israel, either.