As diplomatic efforts intensify in the Middle East, reports from the Egyptian president and unnamed Israeli officials indicate a ceasefire may be in the offing. But quieting the rockets and missiles may be the easiest step in the path to peace. Both Israel and Hamas are seeking long-term change in the relationship between Israeli leaders and the people of Gaza—Hamas seeks to pressure Israel into lifting its economic blockade and Israel is trying to ensure that residents don’t live under the threat of rocket fire.
“No ceasefire is going to last unless both sides deal with the realities,” says Wilson Center senior fellow, Robin Wright. “There are a lot of questions about what happens next, even if there is a ceasefire.”
In an attempt to negotiate both a short-term and long-term peace, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has emerged as the primary peace broker in the region, despite throwing his support behind the Hamas leadership. “Morsi went from being an engineering professor, in ten weeks, to becoming one of, if not the most important leader in the Arab world. This will test not only his ability to be president of Egypt but his ability to be the leader of the Arab world,” says Wright.
As a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi may be one of the few men in the world who can speak with credibility on behalf of Hamas’ leaders with Western powers. But his ability to be a peacemaker will be tested by what comes after the shooting stops.
“The United States always sees crises as opportunities. What the United States wants to see here is can we take (Egyptian President) Mohammed Morsi…and make him into a constructive leader for regional stability,” said The Washington Institute’s Michael Singh. “The question is is he going to act as president of Egypt with Egypt’s national interests in mind, or is he going to act according to the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology. Frankly, he’s so far been leaning in the direction of pragmatism and that’s a very good thing for Israel and the United States.”