Amid warnings that a conflict with Iran is imminent and looming on the horizon, Israel seems to be working to secure a long-term arrangement with Hamas in the Gaza Strip aimed at creating peace and quiet along its southern front.“I recognize a unique opportunity in Gaza,” Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said in a speech on Wednesday. “There is a strong desire not to bring about an escalation of tensions on the part of Hamas, and it was Islamic Jihad under the leadership of its now-dead commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata, that was responsible for the vast majority of attacks on Israel in the past year.”Hamas, the IDF chief of staff said, wants to improve the welfare of its citizens, and Israel is “in the process of assisting the Egyptians within which we will facilitate civilian relief. This is the policy of the Israeli government and I support it.”Kochavi’s frank comments revealed what has long been known – Israel is negotiating a deal that will end violence in Gaza and bring a semblance of quiet to the South.A day after Kochavi spoke, the organizers of the Great March of Return, the weekly demonstrations near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, announced that they were suspending the protests until the end of March. The decision, which goes into effect January 3, is seen as part of the effort to secure a ceasefire, an effort being mediated by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations.Israel’s interest in a long-term ceasefire with Hamas is threefold. On the one hand, with the chance for a conflict with Iran on the rise, it is important to mitigate threats and to work to remove possible violent distractions where and when possible. The IDF needs to be focused right now on the northern front – particularly Syria. And if it can remove the burden of Gaza, that is a clear benefit.The second purpose is to try and improve the quality of life for the residents of the South. For too long, the million Israelis who live in the South have suffered from rocket attacks, incendiary balloons and more. Repeated rounds of violence have not brought quiet. And the deterrence they create – if they create any – quickly erodes. A long-term ceasefire has yet to be tried effectively. If it will work remains to be seen but the government should be commended for trying an alternative to just more rounds of military clashes.The third reason is that in order for the ceasefire to work, the quality of life in Gaza needs to be improved. The people of Gaza genuinely suffer. There is high unemployment, power outages and lack of basic services. This is the fault of Hamas, the terrorist organization that runs the Palestinian coastal enclave. Nevertheless, it is an Israeli interest to improve the quality of the lives of the almost two million Palestinians who live there.This is an essential ingredient for the success of any long-term ceasefire for a simple reason – if the people have nothing to lose, then why not resort to violence. If they have what to lose in terms of economic benefits, they might think twice before provoking a new round of violence.Defense Minister Naftali Bennett supports a carrot-stick approach to Gaza and is said to be in favor of allowing thousands of Palestinians from Gaza into Israel to work, a taboo issue for many years in Israel. The idea is to give to Gaza as long as there is quiet, but then to immediately take away the new benefits the moment there is violence.After failed years of trying the same approach while expecting a different result, this sounds refreshing. Will it work is unclear but the Gaza paradigm has long demanded a change.Israel should do all it can to improve the quality of life in Gaza and create infrastructure there – desalination plants, power plants, factories and industrial zones – that can help pull the people out of poverty and away from the clutches of Hamas and its terrorist tentacles. It is in Israel’s national security interest.