The tragedy of the situation in Gaza is that this terrible outbreak of violence was never necessary in the first place.
Last summer, Hamas initiated and accepted the terms of a six-month ceasefire between them and Israel.
Israel agreed to open up the border crossings if rockets ceased to land on Israeli towns. The rockets stopped for five months but the crossings did not open. Gaza became a prison for its inhabitants, one without food or medicine.
On November 4, Israel sent tanks in to prevent the use of smuggling tunnels, killing Palestinians.
The ceasefire nevertheless continued, but was not renewed by Hamas in December - they saw no chance of the crossings being opened. An arrangement would have been possible at that point - if only the Israelis were prepared to allow much-needed food, fuel and medicine into Gaza.
But talks which could have led to that were shattered by Israel's air campaign.
For two years I have been with an organisation which is trying to encourage Hamas to see their rejection of the Israeli occupation as a political rather than a military campaign.
The potential for a diplomatic solution has never been explored. It is too convenient for Jerusalem and Washington to label Hamas a terror organisation and shoot from a distance.
Hamas is a grievance-based political organisation with Islamic credentials, which is committed to freeing Palestine from the Israeli occupation. They are capable, in time, of accepting a two-state solution.
Hamas won the fair and open election in Palestine in 2006.
They won because the people thought Fatah, the party of the rejected government, had failed them. Fatah had not achieved a Palestinian state, despite renouncing violence and recognising Israel. This is crucial to understanding Hamas - they won't recognise Israel until sure of the world's commitment to a just solution to the Palestine issue.
Hamas are not the creatures of Iran but they will accept money and arms from Tehran in the absence of any other source of support.
Adversaries of al-Qaeda, they are in no way interested in setting up a "Taliban-style" government.
Hamas are wrong to target Israeli civilians but no solution is possible unless they are involved.
The only way for Israel to achieve security is to get to political grips with its enemy.
It is way past the time for the shooting to stop and the talking to start.
The potential for a diplomatic solution has never been explored.
It is too convenient to label Hamas a terror organisation and shoot from a distance.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Sensible words on the war in Gaza...
Sir Jeremy Greenstock Former UK Ambassador To The United Nations, writing in Daily Mirror on the current war in Gaza: