A.B. Yehoshua
A.B. Yehoshua Israel news photo: Flash 90

Leftist Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua is saying that Israel should not refer to Hamas as a “terrorist organization” but as an “enemy”.

In an opinion piece published in the New Republic magazine, Yehoshua wrote that Israel should give Hamas the status of a “legitimate enemy”.

“What accounts for the fact that, after the retreat of Israel from the Gaza Strip, the departure from Israeli settlements and the transfer of authority to Hamas, we continue to characterize Gaza as a terrorist state rather than as an ‘enemy’?” he wrote.

“Is it that the expression ‘a regime of terror’ is a stronger expression than ‘enemy’? Or perhaps the word ‘terror’ signifies that deep down we consider Gaza to be a part of Israel. In that case, its inhabitants wouldn’t be considered ‘enemies,’ but Arabs of the Land of Israel in which bands of terrorists operate? Are we responsible for the welfare of Gazans in a way that we weren't responsible for the Syrians or Egyptians? Is that why we continue to supply electricity and food and oil to them, but won't even negotiate with the Gaza leadership in the way we once negotiated with the Jordanians, Syrians, or Egyptians?”

Yehoshua continued, “In my own view, Hamas’s frustration derives from a lack of legitimization by Israel and by much of the world. It is this frustration that leads them to such destructive desperation. That's why we need to grant them status as a legitimate enemy—before we talk about an agreement or, alternatively, about a frontal war. That is how we functioned previously with Arab nations. As long as we label Hamas as a terrorist organization, we cannot achieve a satisfactory ceasefire in the south...”

“The skeptics among us will argue that Hamas would not sit with us for such open negotiations,” he wrote, adding, “If so, then we must propose meetings within the framework of the united Palestinian government. And should Hamas reject that proposal, then our war will become a legitimate war in every sense of the word, fought according to the general rules of warfare.”

“Let us not forget: The Palestinians in Gaza are our permanent neighbors, and we are theirs. We will never halt the bloody destruction by talking of ‘terror.’ It will require negotiation, or a war against a legitimate ‘enemy,’” wrote Yehoshua.

Yehoshua made similar remarks in 2012, when he issued a call for Israel to conduct talks with Hamas and to stop calling it a terror group.

Yehoshua noted at the time that the Jordanians and Syrians also killed Israelis but were not called terrorists. He then explained that even the Nazis, despite their horrific deeds, were not called by that term. "They were the cruelest enemy in the annals of mankind, but not terrorists," he said.

Yehoshua was among a group of leftist Israeli authors and poets who last year wrote a letter to Samer Issawi, a terrorist who was arrested by Israel and launched a hunger strike, urging him to call off his hunger strike.

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