Should Israel and Hamas achieve their stated objectives, the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians, as a whole, will take a dramatically different turn, change the nature of the conflict, and substantially improve the prospect for peace. The question is: Will their political circumstances and the reality they face lead to such an outcome?
Rather than viewing the conflict merely between Jews and Arabs, it is important to note that the major disagreement here is between Palestinians and Israelis who support the separation of the area into two states and those Arabs and Israelis who reject the partition of Palestine in favor of a one-state solution.
In his recent meeting with Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he was "committed to the vision of peace for two states for two peoples." That sounds nice. But if he'd been pressed, Netanyahu might have admitted that the two states he had in mind were Israel and the U.S., not Israel and Palestine.
The Netanyahu-led government's announcement of its decision to annex nearly 1,000 acres of Palestinian land in the West Bank between the Etzion settlement block and Jerusalem amounts to nothing less than a reckless and offensive act that only further undermines Israel's moral international standing and has dire future consequences.
The new ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has immediately raised the same old question: Will it last, or is it merely just another pause, providing the prelude for the next round of fighting à la previous ceasefires? I believe the current ceasefire is different as it was achieved under completely different circumstances and may well last.
The Palestine Monetary Authority has kept cash flowing to a besieged population struggling to survive in a devastated economy. Gaza's 45 bank branches have been mostly closed during the nearly month-long conflict, with working ATMs depending on the availability of generator fuel and the daring of bank staff to maintain them.