"In one respect, at least, the current escalation and breakdown perhaps presents one advantage – that the artificial unity of post Mecca has been exposed and that any future deal will clearly require deeper power-sharing and greater buy-in. There are still significant elements within Fatah and Hamas that understand the need for reconciliation sooner, rather than later. There are likely to be Arab-led or other efforts to bring Hamas and Fatah back to the table. Again, success will neither be easy, nor quick, but building an arrangement for deeper power sharing is the best option, certainly from a security and peace perspective. This will require a different delineation of security responsibilities and incorporation of militias and an agreed upon stabilization plan that would win international support. The international policy of divide and rule will have to find its resting place, along with the more aggressive version of selective engagement. Europeans, Arabs, and others should begin to explore the parameters for a deeper power-sharing arrangement with the two parties. Efforts should be made to cease the arming up of either side, importantly this should include the flow of weapons from Egypt into Gaza. If the Bush administration cannot sign on to this change in policy direction, it should at least do no harm, sit this round out, and let others take the lead.
"In the meantime, Israel and Hamas will have to sober up and find ways to conduct their interaction over urgent humanitarian issues, such as food, power, water, and medical supplies. The two main criteria for calibrating progress with Hamas should be security and respect for the rule of law and democratic process (this should apply to Fatah also). Interestingly, a Hamas-led Gaza may be better able to impose security discipline – no Qassams have been fired in the last days. Israel should be seriously exploring, via intermediaries, the possibility of a comprehensive ceasefire. Hamas should see to the immediate freeing of the BBC’s Alan Johnston and negotiate a deal for the release of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit. Rather than hurtling towards new elections, the Fatah-Hamas Humpty Dumpty needs to be put together again."
(Crossposted to American Footprints)