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James M. Dorsey For The Straits Times

Need for credible mediator in conflict

Published on Jul 31, 2014 1:28 PM
(From left) Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah speak after their meeting regarding a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, at the foreign ministry in Paris, on July 26, 2014.  -- PHOTO: AFP

Amid the death and destruction raining down on the Gaza Strip, there is a sliver of hope. Seldom have the makings for a mutually agreed long-term arrangement that would give both parties a degree of stability and security, and allow for Palestinian, as well as Israeli, economic growth been better than today.

In fact, in a perverse way, the Israeli assault on Gaza has improved chances for such an arrangement by politically strengthening Hamas, the Islamist militia, which is no match for the Israeli military but has already scored a psychological victory.

Hamas demonstrated its ability to reach major Israeli cities with its rockets, infiltrate Israel proper, persuade international airlines to halt flights to Tel Aviv and put up fierce urban resistance inside Gazan towns.

Israel hopes to weaken and demilitarise Hamas but not totally eradicate it because that could open the door to more militant Islamist groups taking control of Gaza. In its view, a weakened Hamas would strengthen Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and either undermine the Palestinian position or render it incapable of negotiating a final solution of the conflict on terms remotely acceptable to Palestinians.

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