Over the past several months, The Globe and Mail's Middle East correspondent Patrick Martin conducted extensive interviews with more than 30 Hamas figures in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank for The Globe's Inside Hamas series.
On Monday he was online to discuss Hamas, Canada, and the quest for peace with Israeli parliamentarian Yohanan Plesner.
Here are some highlights from the discussion:
Comment From Gary: Lets say that similarly to the Arafat movement it would be possible to moderate Hamas in just a few generations. How do we know that when this is done someone else will not take place of Hamas, Islamic Jihad for instance and the process of moderation will need to be started again.
Patrick Martin: It's a fair question, Gary. Already Salafi-Jihadists are growing in number in Gaza, believing that Hamas has betrayed the Islamic agenda. The one thing that will keep back the extremists is if the two nations can agree on a viable model for peace and for delivering economic and social benefits. People with hope in these areas are less likely to be drawn to conflict. And security guarantees for both sides, will help ensure that.
Comment From Amnon: Gary: If you read Patrick's piece you would know that if anything extremism and radicalism is on the rise. The probability of Hamas moderating seems low and remote.
Yohanan Plesner: Dear Gary - we are not there yet. The two main political forces within the territories are Hamas and Fatah. Rather than worrying about what will transpire within a few decades once Hamas "moderates", we probably ought to discuss what mix of leverages, tools, "carrots", and sanctions ought to be deployed by Israel and the international community in order to trigger a process of "moderation" within Hamas. So far, they continue to be committed to a fanatical Islamist platform that calls for the destruction of Israel and subverts the efforts to achieve peace.
Read Monday's discussion with Mr. Plesner and Mr. Martin
Yohanan Plesner is a member of the opposition party, Kadima. He has been on the political scene in Israel for a number of years, including being an advisor to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
He has been an elected member of Government since 2007. He serves on a number of Knesset committees, including the House Committee, the Science and Technology Committee, and the prestigious Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. During his term in the Knesset, he has spoken out on issues ranging from personal security and electoral reform to preservation of the environment and excellence in education.
Before joining Knesset, Mr. Plesner worked in the Prime Minister's office under Ariel Sharon as head of special projects. He earned his BA in Economics at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and his MA in Political Economics from the JFK School of Government, Harvard. Born in England, Plesner grew up in Jerusalem where he still makes his home with his two children.
Mr. Martin is on his second tour as The Globe and Mail's Middle East correspondent. His first time was from 1991-95 - from the time of the Palestinians first intifada to the optimistic days that followed the Oslo Accords. He arrived back in the fall of 2008 just in time for Israel's war on Hamas in Gaza and its aftermath.
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