If Not Now, When?

Andrew Sullivan cites this passage from Michael Totten:

. . .While a final peace with the Arabs and Palestinians is as elusive asever, most Israelis expect a period of relative quiet now thatdeterrence has been established on its eastern border with the WestBank, on its northern border with Lebanon, and on its southwesternborder with Gaza.

Totten conveys a sense of guarded pessimism. But seriously, if that’s not a time when Israel can afford to make a generous peace gesture, when is?

Israel will never negotiate with an enemy it has just been “defeated” by, because that would be a sign of weakness that jeopardizes its deterrence. But if it also refuses to negotiate with an enemy it has just defeated, the obvious conclusion for Hamas — and Palestinians in general — to draw is that absolute victory (i.e. the destruction of the State of Israel) is the only alternative to a standoff, punctuated by outbreaks of violence, that amounts to a slow death.

Now, granted, Hamas is already officially dedicated to destroying the State of Israel. But renouncing that as a goal will only be less likely if it also means accepting a death sentence.

Update: So much for guarded pessimism. Time for the real thing.