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The Israel-Gaza Crisis: Three Things to Know

Speaker: Robert M. Danin, Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
August 4, 2014

The current round of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas is the longest and most deadly since the two squared off in 2009. The conflict, which has broader regional implications, is likely to wage on until a third party can broker a cease-fire that allows both sides to point to respective achievements. CFR's Robert Danin offers three things to know about the crisis in Gaza:

  • No Rush to Resolve: Intensifying violence has made it more difficult for Hamas and Israel to reach a lasting cease-fire. Their demands have increased "beyond what either side can easily offer the other," says Danin, as both pursue "gains to justify the pain they have incurred." Israel wants to weaken Hamas economically, politically, and militarily, while Hamas wants Israel's and Egypt's embargo of Gaza lifted.
  • A Broader Geopolitical Affair: The Gaza crisis is part of a larger power struggle in the Middle East, explains Danin, pitting Hamas supporters Qatar and Turkey against Israel and most of the Arab League countries. While most Arab states condemn the mounting Palestinian death toll, "they don't want to see the Islamist Hamas—or their backers in Doha and Ankara—emerge politically triumphant," he says.
  • Brokers Wanted: Egypt could historically be relied on to mediate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, but today Cairo "is implacably opposed to Hamas—an organization it sees as a mere extension of its own banned Muslim Brotherhood," says Danin. At the moment, the only party positioned to broker a deal, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, has little to offer either side.

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