Our hopes were raised on Wednesday when we heard reports that Hamas had accepted an Egyptian cease-fire proposal. The death toll in Gaza had passed 1,000 – a horrific number, and we’re grateful to Eran Lerman, executive director of the American Jewish Committee’s Israel/Middle East Office, for telling sad but necessary truths about the Gaza conflict. Why so much suffering in Gaza? His insightful piece deserves to be widely circulated.)
We’re also grateful that those thousand-plus deaths were not of Israelis, as well they might have been had power shifted the other way.
Meanwhile, we posted our wire service’s report as “breaking news” on our Website (jstandard.com) and added the information to our Gaza coverage. (See page 18.) But breaking news is, by its nature, changing news. By Friday, when this newspaper appears, there may indeed be a cease-fire – or, given the vagaries of the Middle East, there may not.
It’s noteworthy that Egypt, once Israel’s sworn enemy, is the broker here. Israel need not “sit at the table” with Hamas, a terrorist organization. Nor dare Hamas break its word, if given to Egypt.
Of course, Egypt has its reasons (this is, after all, the Middle East): It demonstrated leadership, threw some weight around, and collected markers – even if the cease-fire does not materialize or does not hold. It also helped protect its own borders against the Hamas threat.
It’s also a reminder that things can change – that an enemy can make peace, even if it is a “cold peace,” as Egypt’s relations with Israel have been described.
Of course, things can change in the other way as well. Once-friendly nations can become harsh critics – like Turkey in recent weeks.
But that’s another story; right now, we’re hoping for a cease-fire.