Will This Gaza Truce Hold?

by Dish Staff

The NYT reports that Israel and Hamas have agreed to an open-ended ceasefire proposed by Egypt:

People familiar with the agreement said it would ease but not lift Israeli restrictions on travel and trade, largely reviving the terms of a 2012 cease-fire agreement that ended an eight-day air war. It also will allow construction materials and humanitarian aid to enter Gaza in large quantities for a major rebuilding effort, with a monitoring mechanism to ensure that concrete and cement would go only to civilian purposes. “We’re not interested in allowing Hamas to rebuild its military machine,” the senior Israeli official said. Other issues — including Hamas’s demand for a Gaza seaport and airport, Israel’s demand for Gaza’s demilitarization, and the return of Israeli soldiers’ remains believed to be in Hamas’s hands — were to be addressed after a month if the truce holds, people familiar with the agreement said.

In an interview with David Rothkopf, Martin Indyk offers his view on how the Gaza war has altered the dynamics of the peace process:

I think it’s made it a lot more difficult — as if it wasn’t difficult enough already — because it has deepened the antipathy between the two sides.

The Israelis look at Gaza and what’s happened there and understandably say, “We cannot allow such a thing to happen in the West Bank.” And therefore, today there’s a lot more credibility to the argument that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have to stay in the West Bank, otherwise Israelis fear there will be tunnels into Tel Aviv and there will be rockets on Ben Gurion Airport, and Hamas will take over and they’ll face a disaster in the “belly” of Israel.

There are security answers to all of that, but I just think the Israeli public attitude is going to be far more concerned about any kind of Israeli military withdrawal from the West Bank. At the same time, the Palestinian attitude will be even stronger that there has to be an end to the occupation, which means a complete Israeli military withdrawal from the West Bank. And the process of negotiating peace does not have any credibility with them unless they have a date certain for when the occupation is going to end, and basically the Israeli attitude will likely be that the occupation is not going to end if that means a complete withdrawal of the IDF. So beyond all of the antagonism that conflict generates this Gaza war may have put another nail in the coffin of the two-state solution.

Rami Khouri suggests that the best way to a permanent peace is through the UN Security Council:

Pressure from the Security Council — where both sides enjoy significant support — would help Israeli and Palestinian leaders to sell their followers on otherwise difficult concessions. For example, assuming military attacks on both sides do stop, Israel could delay its demand to demilitarize Gaza. The Palestinians could similarly suspend their demand for an operational port and airport. Working through the UN could also ensure that any cease-fire holds better than previous ones did. The draft resolution proposed by France, Britain and Germany reportedly envisions an international monitoring presence in Gaza, to minimize violations by either party. This missing element was a major reason why previous cease-fires collapsed. If Hamas expects Israel to lift border restrictions on travel and imports, and if Israel expects Hamas to forswear attempts to rearm, U.N. observers trusted by both sides will have to be in place to ensure compliance.