A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

If the Ceasefire Holds ...

A ceasefire has finally been announced, after further escalation such as today's bus bombing in Tel Aviv. If the ceasefire holds, who will be the winners and losers?

Egypt and President Morsi have the most to gain, I suspect; if the ceasefire holds many Israelis will be reassured that a Muslim Brotherhood President is not automatically inimical to Egyptian-Israeli peace. By the same token, if Egypt is the guarantor of the ceasefire and it unravels, Egypt loses. And if new weapons enter Gaza during the ceasefire, it will likely blame Egypt.

The main combatants had both gone out on a limb with no easy way to back down. A ground invasion has been tried before, without eliminating the danger of rocket fire. Reoccupation of Gaza would like increase IDF casualties.  But while there was no easy military solution, there is criticism in Israel that the government has failed to end the threat. It's not yet clear whether Netanyahu's decision to escalate by killing the Hamas military chief will work in his favor in the upcoming elections, or the opposite.

It seems to me that this particular outburst of violence has accomplished little for either side, unless this ceasefire leads to some genuine understanding that both ends the rocket threat to Israeli cities and relaxes the harsh siege of Gaza. Unless that happens, it will have been just another spasm of violence.

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