A familiar approach to a familiar situation

An Israeli delegation will travel to Cairo to discuss preventing arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip. The focus will be on the “tunnel industry.” The discussions, in turn, could create the conditions for a cease-fire, according to the Jerusalem Post.

This scenario, if it occurs, will parallel the way in which Israel’s 2006 war in Lebanon ended. Then, an “international force” was enlisted ostensibly to help protect Israel from attacks by Hezbollah. Here, Egypt would be enlisted to help protect Israel from attacks by Hamas.

This approach to obtaining an end to fighting makes sense as a formal matter. The likes of Hamas and Hezbollah can’t be seen as agreeing not to attack Israel, and Israel couldn’t be seen as taking such a promise seriously in any case. So a cessation of hostilities, if it is to occur, must be predicated on third party promising to do something to help protect Israel.

Whether this approach makes sense as a matter of substance is another question. The answer will depend on the identity of the third party, the promise it makes, and the feasibility of living up to that promise.

I’m not sure how that equation plays out here, but I suspect Israel can trust the Egyptians when it comes to Gaza more than it can trust an “international force” when it comes to Lebanon. Hamas may suspect this as well, and thus may not agree to such a deal.

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