An Israeli study published by Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) suggested there are three scenarios for Israel to deal the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, with the best option lying in accommodating with it.
According to the study prepared by the two Israeli researchers, Kobi Michael and Yohanan Tzoreff, the first scenario is the continuation of the status quo with neither escalation nor calm and with escalation followed by calm.
The second scenario, they said, is a gradual military escalation against Hamas, leading to comprehensive war. While the third is a broader and longer-term accommodation with Hamas.
The study concluded that the chances of understanding and settlement between Israel and Hamas are the most likely, pointing out that Israel faces a serious dilemma regarding the situation in the Gaza Strip, especially the behavior it is supposed to adopt towards Hamas.
“Although it (Israel) seeks to provide calm in the Strip by reaching a settlement with Hamas in return for easing the siege there, this settlement requires that Hamas retain the ability to govern and restrain factions seeking to foil prospects for calm,” the study noted.
Practically, Israel does not seek to end Hamas’ rule in Gaza, but wants it to continue since this prolongs the division with the West Bank and Fatah. However, the problem lies in the movement’s ongoing development of its military capabilities.
“These indicators raise the following question: Does the weakening of Hamas serve Israel as a prelude to the Palestinian Authority’s return to Gaza Strip?” asked Tzoreff.
It is doubtful the PA will try to regain control of the Strip as long as there is no political breakthrough in relations with Israel and since such a move would be perceived as enabled by Israeli aggression, he remarked.
The PA had previously rejected such proposals “to overthrow Hamas and return to the Strip.”
Hamas in turn, is facing its own dilemma in regards to fulfilling the civic responsibilities of governance in Gaza and in combating Israel.
It has sought to open channels of communication with regional and international countries to explain its contradictory stance that refuses to recognize Israel and is yet not opposed to striking agreements with it.