Via Egyptian mediation, Israel is seeking to reach a long-term cease-fire with Hamas that will restore much-needed quiet to the South.

Heavy-hitter foreign ministers and international community representatives have been visiting the region, including Israel, in an attempt to help broker a deal that would bring an end to the hostilities.

In addition to Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who has already made public announcements from Jerusalem placing the responsibility for ending the conflict on Hamas’s shoulders, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be meeting with our top leaders here.

A long-term cease-fire is definitely in Israel’s interest.

After all, the prime objective of Operation Pillar of Defense is to restore deterrence and stop the barrage of rocket and mortar fire launched from Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

However, with all the desire to end the bloodshed and destruction, Israel cannot agree to a cease-fire at any cost. Hamas is demanding, for instance, that Israel respect Gaza’s airspace and refrain from flying planes, drones or other air crafts over the Strip. Hamas is also demanding that Israel remove the naval blockade on Gaza.

Obviously, Israel cannot agree to such demands as long as Gaza is ruled by a terrorist organization that has The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in its official charter and sees all of “Palestine” as an irrevocable “Islamic Wakf [gift from God] throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection.”

Still, Israel could provide Hamas with a pretext for agreeing to a cease-fire. If Egypt were to provide guarantees that it will prevent the smuggling of arms through the Rafah crossing from Sinai, Israel could agree to Hamas’s demand to open Gaza’s land borders.

In essence, the land crossings into and out of Gaza are already open and they have been for some time. Food and sundry products and materials make their way into Gaza on a regular basis – both from the Israeli and the Egyptian sides of the border. Israel could also consider meeting other Hamas demands that do not compromise Israeli security.

Admittedly, any Israeli concessions will immediately be touted by the anti-Semitic, anti-Western Hamas as proof of the efficacy of its evil policies of indiscriminate bombing of Israelis – men, women and children.

Hamas will attempt to show that it bullied Israel into submission. And by making concessions, Israel will essentially be rewarding the Hamas for attacking it.

Hamas will attempt to present itself as the winner in Operation Pillar of Defense. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will make a huge victory speech before a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Gaza City. And the terrorist organization will take credit for any Israeli concessions made within the framework of the cease-fire agreement.

But after the victory speeches are over and world attention is directed elsewhere (such as the ongoing massacres in Syria), Gazans will turn to face the death and destruction brought upon them by Hamas’s inimical leadership.

Hamas’s leaders will size up the damage resulting from Israel’s targeted killings. In addition to the death of Ahmed Jabari, head of Hamas’s armed wing – the equivalent of an army’s chief-of-staff – several Hamas field commanders were eliminated as was the head of the Hamas’s rocket project.

Gaza’s population, meanwhile, will begin to internalize the extent of the loss of human life. Not only does Hamas refrain from providing its civilian population with even rudimentary protection by building bomb shelters, the terrorist organization purposely embeds its gunmen and arms caches in highly populated areas, near mosques, schools and hospitals.

Perhaps Gaza’s people, or at least some of them, will begin to realize the folly of Hamas’s leadership.

If Hamas’s popularity falls in coming months as it did in the months after Operation Cast Lead four years ago, perhaps the terrorist organization will think twice before initiating the next round of violence.

Unfortunately, it is too much to expect that Gaza’s Hamas government will redirect its efforts and energies from terrorizing Israelis to bettering the lives of the 1.6 million people living under its leadership.

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