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The Israel-Gaza conflict: An opportunity to revive the long-stalled peace process?
The latest round of fighting has underscored the need for a viable solution to halt the region's endless cycle of violence
 
Palestinians gather around a destroyed house after an Israeli air strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Nov. 19.
Palestinians gather around a destroyed house after an Israeli air strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Nov. 19.
REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

A potential cease-fire is reportedly in the works to end fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip — a conflict that has killed more than 100 people in the past week, many of them civilians. President Obama has dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the region to "put an American imprimatur" on any cease-fire, says Mark Landler at The New York Times, "a sharp shift from his hands-off posture of the past two years," which was largely marked by a "futile effort to restart peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians." The latest burst of fighting was sparked by constant rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, and any cease-fire would likely require an end to such hostilities. However, analysts say Israel's retaliatory strikes have not won any lasting peace or even weakened Hamas in a substantial way, leading to calls for Israel to give diplomacy a chance. Is the latest burst of fighting an opportunity to revive the long-failed Arab-Israeli peace process?

No. Israel should ramp up its military efforts: The last time Israel withdrew from Gaza, in 2008, it yielded a "Palestinian regime even more radical and emboldened than it had been before," says Bret Stephens at The Wall Street Journal. "As strategic failures go, it was nearly perfect." Israel may reap a "diplomatic and public-relations benefit" from pushing for peace, but it "isn't worth the price Israelis have had to pay in lives and terror." Obama will undoubtedly push for "for yet another effort to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace," but Israel "can afford to watch only so many reruns of this same, sordid show."
"The truth about Gaza"

Yes. The military approach is a dead end: Israel may have earned a brief reprieve with its latest assault on Gaza, but in the end, Israel "cannot expel Hamas and other militant organizations" from Gaza "because it cannot hold Gaza," says Peter Beinart at The Daily Beast. "Soon or later Israel will find itself in the same position it is in today — except that Hamas and other militant groups will have better rockets, able to kill more Jews." Israel's refusal to negotiate with Hamas is "not a long-term strategy" — indeed, it will likely embolden hard-liners within the party and radicalize the group further. If Israel wants to make Hamas "a less deadly and resolute foe," it must begin working with the group in earnest on a lasting peace deal.
"Israel's fatal game"

And Israel must also reach out to the West Bank: Without some kind of reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, "we should only expect the cycle of violence to continue," says Khaled Elgindy at CNN. The PA has been seen as the more moderate of the two Palestinian factions, but it has "neither the mandate to negotiate a conflict-ending peace deal with Israel nor the ability to implement it." The U.S. and Israel's isolation of Gaza has only strengthened Hamas' standing in the Muslim world, while the PA has become increasingly irrelevant. It's time for a "grand bargain" between Israel, the PA, and Hamas.
"How this could be the last Gaza war"

 

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