Ex-Mossad chief urges Israel-Hamas armistice



JERUSALEM (AFP) -- A former head of the Mossad spy agency said that Israel should consider a long-term truce with the Hamas-led Palestinian government in the absence of any prospect for a real peace deal.

"Hamas is not heading today towards a (peace) agreement with Israel, but towards what it calls a Hudna -- a ceasefire, what I would call an 'armistice'," Ephraim Halevy told public radio.

Halevy, 72, who left Mossad in 2003, made his comments in an interview after the publication of his book "Man in the Shadows," about his years as the head of the secret service. He said that because the current situation was not conducive to reaching a definitive accord with the Palestinians, he believed Israel should work towards "concluding a long-term interim agreement", before opting for the internationally-drafted "roadmap."

"There are points of convergence between this long-term interim accord advocated by Ariel Sharon and the Hudna Hamas speaks of," he said.

"If we arrive at a situation in which, over many long years, there are no longer hostilities between the two parties, I believe this is one thing worth examining," Halevy added.

"I'm talking about an armistice agreement, a very detailed accord which imposes conditions on the two parties, such as there was in 1949 between Israel and the Arab states" after the war which followed the creation of Israel in 1948.

Halevy rejected the "roadmap," which he said he believes holds "dangers for Israel," notably the "division of Jerusalem." The east of the city was conquered and annexed by Israel in the Arab-Israel war of June 1967 but its claim over the city is not recognized by the international community.

The "roadmap" was drafted in 2003 by the so-called Middle East quartet of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations with the aim of establishing a viable Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace.

Israel "does not need recognition of its existence by Hamas," Halevy said of the Islamist movement that won Palestinian elections in January. "To demand a Hamas recognition of the state of Israel, and to wait every day for the miracle to happen, is to bestow on Hamas an importance it should not be given."