“The Middle East has a way of imposing itself on American presidents and their administrations. Just ask President Joe Biden. With six phone calls to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and calls with Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, he understood, whatever his hopes, that his personal involvement was necessary to help produce the ceasefire. And, while a trip to the Middle East had not been on his agenda at this time, Secretary of State Antony Blinken felt the need to go to the region to try to bolster the ceasefire, address humanitarian and reconstruction needs in Gaza, and establish a diplomatic track for managing Israeli-Palestinian relations and recommitting to a two-state for two peoples’ outcome.

“As someone who negotiated with the parties for decades, I know that each of these tasks contains its own challenges. Ironically, the least difficult one is bolstering the ceasefire. True, it was a ceasefire in which nothing was agreed except to stop the firing of weapons, but the fact is that both sides had reason to stop. Hamas was paying a severe price in terms of its military infrastructure and had already achieved what it set out to do: impose a price on Israel in response to events in Jerusalem and make Hamas more the focal point of the Palestinian cause than the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank…”

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