Skip to main content

Netanyahu honeymoons with Hamas, expects quiet in return

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has quietly made a number of significant concessions to Hamas to buy some quiet until the March 2 elections in Israel.
Read in 

Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi is known to be more gung-ho about engaging Hamas than his predecessor, Gadi Eizenkot, was. In addition, Israel’s new defense minister, Naftali Bennett, is aggressive and outspoken on the issue. Yet, ironically, Israel has embarked on an unprecedented honeymoon with Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip for almost 13 years, since 2007. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has made a career out of issuing hollow threats against the organization and Gaza, now appears to be in love with Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, while Bennett strolls into the sunset arm-in-arm with Hamas' Gaza chief, Yahya Sinwar.

The relief measures Israel has granted Hamas in recent weeks are unprecedented and the most comprehensive since Hamas kicked the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza and took control of the enclave. Even though on Feb. 11 the prime minister promised Hamas the “surprise of its life,” and on Feb. 18 the defense minister warned of a “painful spring” ahead for the group, Israel has been relaxing a growing number of significant restrictions it had placed on the organization, signifying what has been clear for months: Sinwar is once again the victor. He has proved that Israel only understands force and that the Netanyahu government does not have a real solution concerning Gaza as long as its strategic interest lies in preserving Hamas' rule and avoiding Palestinian unification at all cost.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.