People hate weak enemies, and so Jews despise Hamas and refuse to negotiate with it. But note two crucial things: Hamas doesn’t attack Jewish targets abroad or proclaim Palestinian statehood.

Hamas can easily achieve publicity and political advantage by attacking Israeli soft targets: Jews, Jewish businesses, and community centers abroad. Protecting them all is impossible. Faced with persistent attacks, American Jews would pressure Israel to accept whatever concessions Hamas demands.

Surely Hamas has plenty of means for low-level terrorist attacks against Jews in many countries, but especially in Western Europe and Latin America. Surely Hamas understands that Israel won’t summarily retaliate against Palestinians. Hamas leaders are mostly hardened operatives, unlike the Fatah hoodlums, and most of them don’t fear targeted assassination. It is clear from the February rocket attacks on Sderot that Hamas guerrillas refused to scale down their offensive to avoid the targeted assassinations Israel threatens them with.

Israeli intelligence capabilities abroad are limited in comparison to the free pass Shabak enjoys in the West Bank. Hamas would find foreign attacks on Jews much easier than operations in Israel.

The relations between Israel and Hamas imply a high degree of cooperation. Shabak now intercepts 99 percent of terrorist attacks. Even accounting for the immense Israeli intelligence network in the territories, it is incredible that the Palestinians can carry out just one suicide bombing per year. Only small numbers of terrorists participate in the planning, and discovering a mole after a few failed operations should not be a problem. Evidently, Hamas and other terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah, willingly limit their operations to the level acceptable both to Israel and their supporters.

Nothing precludes Hamas from proclaiming Palestinian statehood in Gaza. The recent breach of border with Egypt demonstrates that Hamas is willing to risk alienating its major sponsor. Even though Hamas depends on Egypt for all its logistics, it still initiated a major crisis and presented the Egyptians as Israeli collaborators who blockade Gaza. Hamas won’t care about Muslim opposition to Palestinian statehood (Muslim governments depend on the burning Palestinian issue to sublimate the energies of their own radicals, and don’t actually want a Palestinian state). Someone like Haniyeh or Mashaal would love to go down in the annals of Palestinian history as the founder of their state before Israel assassinates him; still, they do not proclaim independence.

Hamas offered Israel a long-term truce. Any Muslim who says differently is a liar: Islam positively forbids a non-Islamic state in this land, and Muslims may recognize the conquerors only temporarily. Hamas, therefore, offers as much as it can under Islamic law. Hamas is an honest, and in its own way, decent Islamic organization, unlike the Fatah thugs.

Hamas was the first Palestinian organization which tried to enforce order in Gaza, and could succeed—but independent and Fatah-supported militias refused to submit, and Hamas shrunk from civil war in Gaza. Stuck between Israeli sanctions, local militants, and a discontent population, Hamas cannot do any better.

Hamas refrained from attacking Israel for long time. The attacks attributed to Hamas are actually perpetrated by the Izz ad Din Kassam Brigades loosely connected to Hamas. There is no way Hamas can give an order to the Kassam Brigades to stop shelling Israel. Their relations are cooperative rather than hierarchical. The militants have no part in the diplomatic process and naturally resent being left out of the game; so they enter the game with rockets. The cycle of violence around Gaza is self-perpetuating: minor violence from Gaza, sanctions and reprisals from Israel, more attacks, more sanctions—until it’s hard for everyone to stop.

Israel has no alternative to negotiating with Hamas. Fatah is a bubble. It always was a bubble, a one-man operation. Hamas can easily replace assassinated leaders, but Fatah cannot. Except for Abbas, Barghouti, and a handful of others Fatah has no popular figures. Palestinians support Hamas as an organization, but support Abbas as an individual leader. Fatah has amply demonstrated that it cannot enforce security in the West Bank even with Israel’s help. For some odd reason Israel punishes Gaza (where Hamas tries to end the attacks), but rewards the West Bank (where Fatah bankrolls the terrorists).

It is a big question whether Israel needs peace with Palestinian Arabs. But if she does, then she must talk to Hamas.