Uneasy Gaza Peace Worth a Try
The best news is that both Israel and Gaza are claiming victory.
That is usually an indication that the right balance between two warring parties has been reached. That also means there will be continuing mistrust between them unless long-term peace can finally be achieved. There is no sign of that happening yet. This is another chapter in a long saga of unrest.
What sets this agreement apart is that a new Egypt and the United States worked cooperatively together to get the respective sides they support – Egypt through Hamas and the U.S. through Israel – to agree to a cessation of hostilities.
It could be claimed it is the direct result of the Arab Spring and President Obama’s express foreign policy of negotiating with your enemies without preconditions.
Both Morsi of Egypt and Obama of the U.S. deserve the lion’s share of credit for this latest brokered deal. Each made secret deals with their respective protectorates that got them to agree.
Morsi gets the most credit because, for the first time, a Middle East deal was worked out by a democratically elected Mideast leader representing the middle east people rather than the interests of a dictator or the West.
That is an important change made possible by the Arab Spring and the democratization of Egypt.
The U.S. restrained Israel from a full-scale ground invasion of Gaza on the promise we would help prevent smuggling of more missiles into Gaza and provide continuing military aid for the Iron Dome defense system. Nobody knows what Egypt promised Hamas, but it must have been substantial and/or Gaza was running out of long range missiles. The U.S. probably promised Egypt further aid, too.
Hamas, for the first time, can claim it has been taken seriously by the international community. From this time forward, Hamas could chose to put their greatest energy into making better the lives of the 1.7 million Palestinians under their control, but probably will not. Guns, missiles, violence and scapegoating Israel is the only life they know.
Such as it is, this latest approach to solving Middle East intractable differences has achieved a shaky success. The Arab Spring can claim victory in its first major test of Arab-Israeli conflict.
Morsi has assumed center stage. Will he use his new-found stature for the good of the movement or for his own good? Given that he is taking steps to consolidate his own power, that remains to be seen.
In the end, Gaza will rearm with more long-range missiles and more weapons using technology smuggled in from the outside that the U.S. and Israel cannot stop. Hamas will lack the discipline and statesmanship to refrain from using them and then the missiles will start raining again and the Mideast will slip back into the familiar pattern of violence begetting violence.
Giving peace a chance, however, is never the wrong move. No matter what the reasons, it holds a tiny sliver of hope that, this time, things will be different.