Last week I asked: so you want to know what happens next? My updated answer, based mostly on what I’ve been hearing from Israeli officials: a renewed cease fire. It can take a couple of days to get there (update: it only took a few hours until a cease fire was announced early Tuesday evening). The parameters of a cease fire are not going to be much different today from what they were last week: Israel is willing to ease restrictions on the movement of people and materials in and out of Gaza provided there is a mechanism preventing this from becoming a rearming boon for Hamas.
Yesterday I hailed Israeli patience. Poll numbers from yesterday evening will add to the (wrong - read the article for more details) impression that I was too optimistic about Israel's resolve: the confidence in PM Netanyahu's leadership in the war has dramatically declined in recent days according to a Channel 2 poll (Hebrew) from Monday. 38% is the current percentage of people satisfied with Netanyahu according to this poll. 50% are not satisfied. At the high point of the operation Netanyahu was at 82%. The decline in Netanyahu's numbers is understandable and to be expected: the war continues and victory seems elusive.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has a new initiative: he wants the UN to set a date for Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank. The timing of this initiative doesn't give an impression of seriousness but rather smells of a PR stint. Of course, there's nothing wrong with PR, but separating it from true diplomatic initiatives is important, and that is exactly what ministers Livni and Lapid - no enemies of a diplomatic process - did when they dismissed the initiative by reminding the Palestinian leader that the UN isn't going to build a state for him and that there's no substitute to negotiations between the parties.
The Abbas initiative complicates the case for him being part of the Gaza solution. If Abbas makes his Palestinian State deadline a condition upon which his Gaza role depends, Israel isn't likely to accept it. This, on the one hand, will give him a great talking point - "they would not let me take control of Gaza" - and on the other hand will absolve him of a responsibility he isn't enthusiastic about taking.
The prospect of peace was both damaged and helped by the Gaza war.
Damaged - because Israelis are less willing to risk the formation of another Gaza-like zone in Judea and Samaria.
Helped - because some Arab countries (Egypt, Saudi Arabia) seem more serious today in their desire to form a camp of peace-seeking countries in a region that faces a serious challenge from deadly radical forces.
In a briefing today I identified 5 types of Jewish-world (mostly American) reactions to the war:
A. Worry about Israel leading to a strengthening of support for it.
B. Worry about Israel's future leading to despair and detachment.
C. Worry about implications for world Jewry - leading to self-preservational uneasiness.
D. Discomfort with the Israel-US strife (with having to see Mom and Dad having a fight).
E. Discomfort with or disapproval of Israel's moral character.
Many people have more than one reaction, and many alternate daily between different types of reactions. In that they are not much different from Israelis themselves.
Delegitimizing Israel has become more fashionable and more widespread during this war - and that's worrisome. It has also become clearer (at least to Israelis) that delegitimizing Israel's actions of self-defense is dangerously close to antisemitism.
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