Towards A Cease Fire?

Ian Black explains the truce talks currently underway in Egypt:

Hamas wants a guarantee from Israel that it would end “targeted assassinations” of the kind that killed Ahmed al-Jaabari last Wednesday. It would also need pledges about opening crossing points into Egypt and Israel – effectively lifting the five year blockade. Israel is insisting at a minimum on stopping the cross-border rocket fire which has united public opinion behind Operation Defensive Pillar. Israeli casualties have been low because the weapons are inaccurate and many of them were quickly destroyed.

Any deal would include other understandings that are unlikely to be formulated explicitly or made public. Israel certainly wants the Egyptians to shut down the network of tunnels that are Gaza’s lifeline to the outside world. Food and consumer goods are one thing, but the longer-range missiles that allow Hamas or more militant groups to strike targets in Tel Aviv and elsewhere in Israel’s urban heartland are another.

Hussein Ibish says an “Egyptian-brokered deal potentially provides something for everybody”:

Israeli leaders can claim they restored deterrence, took out key militant leaders, destroyed infrastructure and demonstrated that there is a heavy price for anyone attacking Israel from Gaza. Hamas leaders can claim to have stood up to Israel, shown the Israeli public they can reach Tel Aviv, once again unfurled the banner of armed resistance, and achieved major diplomatic breakthroughs with the recent high level visits to Gaza.

Morsi can achieve the neatest trick of all: he can continue with what are effectively Mubarak-era policies—Egypt serving as a broker of cease-fires and a liaison between Hamas and Israel—while presenting the whole thing as a reassertion of Egypt’s regional leadership, and a new foreign policy that stands closer to Hamas (mainly by symbolically dispatching his prime minister to Gaza). So he can create the appearance of popular change without actually changing policies that would aggravate relations with Israel or the United States.