Jews have been coping with uncertainty at least since those conversations between Moses and the Almighty concerning what should be done about getting the people out of Egypt. (See Exodus 3 ff) 

 
While the story of the Exodus may be mythic, there is no doubt about the ancient lineage of the Hebrew Bible, and its numerous stories about uncertainty.
 
Dealing with uncertainty is part of the Jewish DNA.
 
Now we''re back to an Egyptian issue, and the chances of any simple plans being realized as desired are just as doubtful as in that Biblical episode.
 
Among the problems
 
The extreme nature of Hamas'' demands, some of which (a sea port and air port) the Egyptians have already said will have no place at the table they are managing. The betting is that Hamas may get a larger area from the coast for its fishermen, and some assurance of aid and supplies flowing from Egypt and Israel, but not much more. Whether this leads to another round of fighting is anybody''s guess.
 
Increasing signs of governments, some of which Israel would like to consider as its friends, condemning Israel''s actions. We hear about Israel''s criminal and barbaric lack of concern for civilians. Yet from Israelis and those supporting it, we hear of an appropriate mode of fighting against Hamas aggression, and Hamas'' exploitation of civilians and civilian factilities to protect their munitions and the positions from which they fired on Israel. Some of the explosions that killed civilians came from poorly aimed or poorly engineered missiles fired by Hamas, or perhaps from missiles intentionally fired against its own civilians in order to reap international support.
 
An increasing number of actors wanting a role in discussions. Israel''s preference is to manage this with Egypt alone, but there are others aspiring to gain credit and shape the outcome. The too many cooks will have their impact, perhaps only on the noise meaning nothing, or confounding what might otherwise have been possible. Among the busybodies are the US, various European governments and officials of the EU, plus Qatar, and Turkey firmly in Hamas'' camp. Especially problematic is the promotion of Mahmoud Abbas by various parties, including Israelis. The old man is corrupt, has limited influence in the West Bank and much less in Gaza, but may be the most respectable Palestinian available. Renewed calls for his role says a lot, not especially encouraging, about the capacity of Palestinians to shape their own future in positive directions.
 
Against the condemnation of others, including governments that claim to be our friends, there is an unprecedented unanimity among Israels justifying what the IDF did, and demanding that Hamas not be allowed anything like its previous capacity. There are intense pressures from Israelis south and westward toward Gaza from Ashdod across to Beer Sheva. The theme is to prevent Hamas and its allies from returning those Israelis to the chronic threat of missiles experienced over the previous decade. 
 
While some of Israel''s demands are unlikely to be realized (e.g., the de-militarization of Gaza), more likely are demands to impose controls over what is imported to Gaza and how construction materials will be used, i.e., for civilian but not military purposes. 
 
Also uncertain is the willingness of Israel''s political leadership to implement draconian threats against the prospect of any Hamas return to violence. How quickly--if at all--will Israel escalate to attack areas used by Hamas to fire its rockets, including the schools, clinics, mosques, markets, or residential neighborhoods where Hamas chooses to hide its weapons and fire them.
 
Among the proposals heard by various participants in the international discussion is the imposition of a two-state solution, or some other accomplishment of the aspirations associated by Barack Obama, John Kerry, and advocates for Palestine. 
 
Against this is Israel''s fatigue or distrust of such aspirations, and the capacity of Israel to resist. Involved here is the military and economic weight of Israel, the lack of unity among western governments, and Israel''s political capacity to convince the doubters or simply to reject what the Israeli leadership perceives as of doubtful value.
 
On this and all else touched above, Israel''s politicians and members of its government will not speak with one voice. This will provide its own input into the larger picture of uncertainty.
 
One guess is that nothing more will come out of the talks about to begin in Cairo than came from the inflated aspirations of Barack Obama and John Kerry concerned with the West Bank
 
More likely is a fuzzy kind of agreement, perhaps not coming from any direct talks between Israel and Hamas, leaving things uncertain. Israel will be left to rely on its control of one border, Egypt''s control of another, plus Egypt''s animosity to Hamas and its parent Muslim Brotherhood to minimize the subsequent re-armament of Hamas. Israel will also be left to rely on the death and destruction achieved, and the possibility of more death and destruction to dissuade Hamas from another adventure anytime soon.
 
Hamas may be declaring its victory and its certainty of achieving great ends, but no one should take that blather seriously.
 

 

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