THE BLOG

Gaza: Truce Without Hope

06/28/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It's rare in the history of national conflicts that you see truces that are doomed before they are even announced. Truces where both sides denounce each other and practically predict its demise. So this truce follows the miserable history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A truce painstakingly negotiated between Israel and Hamas with Egypt as mediator. A truce which could bring peace to Sderot and Gaza. A truce which could open the border crossings and relieve the suffocation of Gaza. A truce which could free Gilad Shalit. That's what it COULD do. What is will ACTUALLY do is probably something else entirely.

Here is retired IDF General Shlomo Brom and a Palestinian analyst uniting in their lament for the late, lamented truce that's only just begun:

"It is a strange agreement," said Khaled Abdel Shafi, an economist in Gaza. "Both sides are threatening each other. There is no sign of good intentions."

In Israel, some officials suggested that the main purpose of the agreement was to give legitimacy to a future military offensive, so that Israeli leaders could claim that they had exhausted all other possibilities first.

"It could be the start of a new era, but it won't be," said Shlomo Brom, a retired general at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv who has long called for a dialogue with Hamas.

"Listen to their declarations," he said. "Self-fulfilling prophecy."

Kershner's observation above is unfortunately right on the money. Within a month or perhaps sooner, the IDF will be rolling into Gaza to "flush out" insurgents and deal a "fatal blow" to Hamas terror. Equally unfortunate will be the disingenuous Israeli claim that they exhausted every option before resorting to force. In truth, they never gave the diplomatic option a reasonable chance and the military option is DOA. A real diplomatic initiative would have included Gilad Shalit's release, opening of the Gaza crossings, the freeing of Palestinian prisoners, and the inclusion of the West Bank in the ceasefire. The Israelis were not prepared for a comprehensive ceasefire, which in turn dooms this one to the ash heap of the history of previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.