Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, says that Hamas will not negotiate under fire for the release of Gilad Shalit. He turned down the idea of swapping Shalit for the dozens of Hamas politicians arrested by Israel in the West Bank in response to the Shalit abduction:
In his first public address since Israel began its offensive into the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas on Friday said his government would not cave into Israeli demands but said he was working hard to end a five-day-old crisis with Israel.
Though Haniyeh did not directly address Israel’s demand that Palestinian terrorists hand over abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, he implied that the government would not trade him for eight Cabinet ministers and 56 other Hamas officials arrested on Thursday.
“When they kidnapped the ministers they meant to hijack the government’s position, but we say no positions will be hijacked, no governments will fall,” he said.
This will come as news to Israel. After all, the entire incident came as a result of an act of war by Palestinian terrorists ferom Gaza who invaded Israel, killed two IDF soldiers, and kidnapped a third. Hamas refused to intercede for Shalit’s release, and instead demanded the release of prisoners held by Israel to trade for Shalit.
And now Haniyeh refuses to negotiate under fire? Since when?
Israel changed the game on Hamas. Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal gambled that the Israelis would sit back and take no action, falling back to earlier strategies of prisoner trades for hostages. They also expected the neighboring governments and Western nations to pressure Israel to accept Hamas terms for negotiations under fire. Except for France, the Hamas strategy has backfired spectacularly. Western nations have done nothing to restrain Israel, and Egypt has called for the expulsion of Hamas’ leadership in Syria.
If Hamas doesn’t want to negotiate under fire, then they should stop playing with matches. This time, they have burnt themselves.