As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Middle East to offer American support for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas-controlled Gaza, the short term goals are fairly clear: end the hostilities; convince Israel not to engage in ground operations; and stress that Hamas desist in indiscriminately targeting Israeli citizens. How to achieve the long term goals of brokering a permanent peace deal between Israel and Palestine is far murkier.
An article in today’s New York Times discussed how President Obama has thrust the United States back into the conflict between Israel and Palestine, which now involves a key third player: Egypt. Led by the Islamist-leaning Mohamed Morsi and the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt is already engaged in de-escalating tensions, and could play a wider role in convincing Hamas and Israel to negotiate a settlement.
Senior political writer Peter Beinart of The Daily Beast says support for a long-term two-state solution in the Middle East will have to include the Hamas, which, like the Islamists in Egypt, were also democratically elected by an overwhelming majority to the Palestinian Parliament in 2006.