Gaza Crisis: U.S. Should Press Egypt to Rein in Hamas
Although the current Gaza crisis is in many ways reminiscent of the last flare-up in December 2008–January 2009, there are important differences this time around. Hamas’s terrorist reach now includes Israel’s heartland cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv due to long-range Iranian rockets. However, Israel’s new Iron Dome missile defense system has mitigated this threat. The “Arab Spring” uprisings have also significantly altered the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East by resetting Egypt’s foreign policy, which may have emboldened Hamas to trigger the current crisis. To broker a stable cease-fire that doesn’t harm Israel, the United States should work closely with Egypt, which has strong influence with Hamas and seeks to prevent the fighting from threatening its economy. This will be a litmus test for Egypt’s new Islamist leadership. The U.S. must be clear about what is required to build an acceptable and sustainable cease-fire. Washington must leverage its aid to Cairo to ensure an outcome that halts rocket attacks, protects civilians on both sides of the border, limits Hamas’s ability to rearm, reduces Iranian influence, and enhances regional security.