For those interested enough to dive deeper- beyond the tweets, the public relations campaigns, and the moral indignation that muddies the waters of clear analysis- there are some lessons to be learned from the most recent round in the Israel-Gaza conflict.
The first lesson, of course, is that this is indeed just the most recent round. The ceasefire is sure to be inconclusive and no political impasse will be broken, with or without an Israeli ground assault (which looms at the time of writing).
On the diplomatic level, Hamas remains in power, continues to reject Israel’s right to exist, and retains significant –albeit not unlimited—support within the Arab world, Turkey and Iran. Regional dynamics are unchanged. International dynamics are unchanged, with the US and other Western powers committed to unenthusiastic but consistent expressions of Israel’s right to self-defense. Israel itself remains unchanged in its approach to the Palestinian question. At the simplest level, Jerusalem is eager to restore the status quo ante: no Gaza rockets, no Israeli retaliation. Questions of a greater détente with Gaza that might lead to an easing of the blockade are seldom raised, as Hamas rejectionism seems to make such considerations impossible from Jerusalem’s point-of-view.
If there are political notes to taken from this, then:
– The first point of interest is that the West Bank Palestinians, although aggrieved, did not engage.
– A second point is that, Egypt is still the foundation for a stable Middle East. Despite his Muslim Brotherhood associations and the anti-Western and anti-Israel sentiment of his people, President Morsi remains a clear-headed and pragmatic statesman for Egypt (August 22, 2012). Both Hamas and Israel turned to Morsi to broker a cease-fire, and Egypt remains the sole party with influence on both combatants. Turkey’s reckless rhetoric, on the other hand, put Prime Minister Erdogan on the outside, even though the Turks and the Israelis–despite Ravi Marmara– have natural shared interests in both a stable Gaza and, of course, containment of the conflict in Syria.
So, again, there is little reason to expect significant political or diplomatic change from the current conflict. In the interim, at most we may see a greater divide between Hamas and Fatah, where the latter is determined to pursue its UN bid for Palestinian statehood, while the former wants no part of the recognition this would bestow upon Israel. In turn, Israel may at most offer a state with provisional borders, a move it had pondered even before the current round of hostilities.