Israeli forces and Hamas eased their fire on Monday (Reuters), which marks the end of Ramadan, even as international efforts for a formal truce faltered. The UN Security Council called for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, a day after U.S. president Barack Obama called Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express concern over the rising death toll, which has exceeded one thousand (NYT). The informal, unilateral lull comes a day after U.S. secretary of state John Kerry returned to Washington after a week of intensive meetings in the Middle East and Paris failed to yield an greement (WSJ).
"Israeli military officials know there is no simple solution — but that a political solution is always better than a military one. But to achieve that political solution, Israel must first arrive at cease-fire negotiations from a position of strength. For that, a significant price must be extracted from Hamas," writes former Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin in the New York Times.
"Israel argues that its occupation of the Gaza Strip ended with the unilateral withdrawal of its settler population in 2005. It then declared the Gaza Strip to be 'hostile territory' and declared war against its population. Neither the argument nor the statement is tenable. Despite removing 8,000 settlers and the military infrastructure that protected their illegal presence, Israel maintained effective control of the Gaza Strip," writes Noura Erekat in the Nation.
"A moderate-minded Palestinian who watches Israel expand its settlements on lands that most of the world believes should fall within the borders of a future Palestinian state might legitimately come to doubt Israel's intentions. Reversing the settlement project, and moving the West Bank toward eventual independence, would not only give Palestinians hope, but it would convince Israel's sometimes-ambivalent friends that it truly seeks peace," writes Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic.