What is Israel’s problem with Hamas? The group’s demands are entirely within reason: for Israel to withdraw from Gaza, then open the border crossings. Israel refuses for three reasons. One, which is irrational, is that the Jewish establishment dislikes the fervently religious group, and several leftist politicians are deeply invested with Fatah. Two, British Gas has a problem with developing its offshore gas field near Gaza under Hamas rule; Barak lobbies for BG’s interests. Three, inspecting all the cargo which enters Gaza is almost impossible, and Hamas would try to smuggle weapons.

The last argument has three problems. One, Israel already operates a truck-size scanner and can install similar ones at all the crossings to facilitate inspections. Two, Gazans can be made to pay for inspections; that is a normal practice at many customs. Three, arms smuggling is not a problem per se.

Hamas produced Kassam missiles from common pipes and fertilizer, and Israel has banned even ammonium fertilizer from Gaza. Smuggling from Egypt is generally more convenient than through Israeli crossings. And finally—let Hamas amass weapons. The problem is not their quantity, but Hamas’ willingness to use them. Israel can easily discourage Palestinians from firing rockets at her with massive retaliatory strikes. True, Hamas was firing at Israel even during the Gaza operation which was the worst practically possible retaliation, but then the group had no choice: it was either resistance or defeat. With the Israeli border peaceful, Hamas won’t be able to explain to its voters why it keeps firing at Israel and causes them retaliatory suffering.

Unlike the Fatah thugs whom Israel chose for peacemaking partners, Hamas is honest, brave, and predictable. It really cracked down on various militant groups in Gaza in order to stop them from firing at Israel in violation of the ceasefire. Fatah cannot enforce order in the West Bank, even with massive IDF help; but Hamas quickly established a sort of law and order in Gaza. Fatah submits to Israel, but Hamas members fought IDF bravely in hopeless battles. Fatah leaders talk to Israel and the West about the glorious prospects for peace—and talk war and Jew-hatred to Palestinian crowds. Hamas’ leaders are honest: they don’t promise Israel eternal peace because it is both impossible and contrary to Islamic teaching. But they offered us the next-best thing, a long-term truce.

At the height of the Israeli invasion of Gaza, when Egypt pushed Hamas to accept a fifteen-year truce, Hamas only agreed to one year. This speaks volumes about Hamas’ keeping of its word: in the most difficult situation, the group didn’t lie to save itself.

The Israeli establishment trumpets the fact that Hamas rejects a Jewish state. Of course; every Muslim does. The difference is that Hamas says that openly.

Dealing with Hamas directly is the only way for Israel to produce a binding agreement which details each side’s responsibilities. The absence of such an agreement created divergent expectations of the 2008 ceasefire, which ultimately collapsed amid mutual accusations.

Surrounded by three hundred million Muslims and faced with a hostile world, Israel will never live in peace. But for a truce, we better choose a reliable partner—Hamas.