Can Israel end this war at a time of its choosing?
In its latest conflict with Gaza, Israel has fewer mediators in the region to help bring a ceasefire.
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Gershon Baskin, who was involved in indirect cease-fire negotiations with Mr. Jabari up until his death, claimed in a New York Times Op-Ed last week that Israel made “grave and irresponsible strategic error” by assassinating the Hamas leader. He says the same key issues remain on the table now – though without the man who has helped keep Gaza's militants in check during recent rounds of truce negotiations.Skip to next paragraph
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Israel is seeking an immediate cease-fire, to be followed within several days with terms that ensure that that cease-fire will be long-term. Press reports mention a duration of as long as 15 years. Israel also seeks terms that Hamas will not be able to build up its capabilities during that period of quiet, says Dr. Baskin, a veteran negotiator and co-director of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information.
“What’s the point of having a cease-fire if you’re just going to use it to rebuild?” he asks. “Then the next time you have a war, it’s going to be much more difficult and many more people will get killed. Why should Israel agree to that?”
For Hamas, the terms of a long-term cease-fire would likely require that it takes action to prevent attacks against Israel, and puts an end to smuggling through tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border – the latter a condition Hamas is loath to accept, Baskin says.
Egypt, one of the few entities with ties to both Israel and Hamas, is leading efforts to arrange a cease-fire as Palestinian casualties approach 100. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also in Cairo for talks. But since the last Gaza war, Israel’s relations with both Egypt and Turkey have deteriorated.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who was elected by newly empowered citizens, is far more bound than his predecessor was by the Egyptian public's overwhelming popular support for Palestinians. His government, which is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, is also much more closely aligned with Hamas ideologically, since the group is a spin-off of the Brotherhood.
Turkey, meanwhile, has cut nearly all diplomatic ties with Israel since Israel's fatal 2010 raid on a largely Turkish flotilla that tried to break the economic siege on Gaza.
That leaves Israel without a strong voice at the table, especially since the US also has less leverage over Egypt and Turkey now.
“I think it will be very difficult to broker an agreement with Egypt because of the sympathy and the ideological proximity between Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas,” says Mr. Liel, the diplomat.