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Will Israel settle, in effect, for the status quo?

The big news over the weekend was that Israel did not launch a ground invasion of Gaza. Israel says it held off on the invasion to allow time for efforts at reaching a long-term cease-fire to continue. But Israel has also said that, although it prefers a diplomatic solution, any agreement must erase the threat of rocket attacks against Israel’s southern residents.

This would seem to be an obvious point. It makes no sense for Israel to back down without having obtained real protection for its citizens.

Unfortunately, the goal of securing southern Israel from rocket attack cannot be achieved through an agreement. Promises by Hamas to stop launching rockets would be meaningless after a few months. The same is true of promises by others to stop supplying Hamas with rockets; nor would be most dangerous party, Iran, be a party to such an agreement. And it is difficult to imagine an inspection regime that would accomplish Israel’s objectives, much less one that Hamas would agree to absent a crushing military defeat.

Accordingly, Israel must either finish the military job it started, which would accomplish its security objective for a few years anyway, or leave its southern citizens vulnerable to bombardment in the short term.

A cease fire agreement at this juncture, then, would represent another failed effort by Israel to obtain security from its weaker enemies, even as its only powerful enemy moves ever closer to developing a nuclear weapons capability.

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