Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cease Fire Set Up

Hours before a cease-fire between Hamas in Gaza and Israel is set to go into effect, rockets were still being fired into Israel. A final fusillade?

The agreement is rightfully described as shaky because it depends on other groups in Gaza adhering to what Hamas has signed. So far, organizations like Palestinian Islamic Jihad say they will abide by the "lull", as it is being termed, but also reserve the right to re-start operations if they feel Israel is violating the terms. So we still don't have a single command-and-control for the Palestinian side, which makes it easy for spoilers to decide whether they want to launch an attack. Hamas can deny responsibility, and then Israel has to decide how to respond.

In turn, how might Israel's commitments to lessen the blockade of Gaza be interpreted? Presumably, Israel is not going to throw open the floodgates and will be cautious--so could this be used by PIJ or one of the other groups as a cause for restarting the fighting?

If the "lull" works, reasonably so, it will strengthen the argument of those who say diplomacy means having to talk with one's enemies. If it fails, those arguments are weakened.

Also put to the test is whether Hamas is finding that its inability to deliver on economic matters is hampering its ability to rule--a delayed test of the "pothole theory" of democracy?

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