IN OTHER WORDS: Threat looms

The cease-fire that has prevailed since June between Israel and Hamas leaders in Gaza broke down over the weekend, with Hamas leaders saying they would not renew it unless their conditions were met. The rockets and mortars fired into southern Israel, and Israeli talk of retaliation, threaten to make a bad situation worse.

Hamas has put forth two major demands. One is that Israel relieve its devastating economic blockade of Gaza. The other is that Israel observe a truce in the West Bank as well as Gaza. This would mean that Israeli and Palestinian Authority security forces stop their crackdown on Hamas operatives in the West Bank. Israel should offer to lift the Gaza blockade, but leave

the security situation in the West Bank up to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The blockade has done great harm to the population of Gaza without weakening Hamas’s control of the territory. If Hamas refused such an offer, it would have to answer to the people of Gaza. Since Hamas is competing for power with Fatah, Hamas leaders would not want to be seen placing their organisation’s parochial interests in the West Bank ahead of the welfare of the Gaza population. In the long run, the only way to serve the true interests of Israelis and Palestinians is to negotiate a two-state resolution.