As Hillary Clinton arrives in the Middle East, there are hopes of a truce between Gaza and Israel.
Whether or not a ceasefire holds, it may be a case of Back to the Future. The Middle East could be arriving at one of those crossroads in which real negotiations, international pressure and the legacy of leaders offer tantalizing hope.
Hamas has been hurling rockets at Israel for months – a brutal form of 52-card pickup: throw hundreds of cards in the air and see where they land.
Israel lashed out in frustration and began retaliating with a Biblical variant: not eye for an eye, but an eye for many more in return.
It makes no difference when outsiders draw up sides. If the goal is peace, neither side can sustain a policy of attacks and counterattacks. Negotiations require outside pressure and mediation led by the United States.
Hillary Clinton returns to the Middle East as part of an administration that has four more years. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his neo-con friends in Washington tried and failed to wait out the Obama presidency.
If they try again, they must also consider the possibility of 2016: they could face Hillary Clinton once more with former President Bill Clinton always in the wings.
Back to the future:
–President Obama is looking to make a mark in history—the Middle East is ripe territory.
–The Clintons, having failed at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency to strike a Palestinian-Israeli deal—have every reason to try again. Hillary’s uncertain future exerts tacit pressure even after she leaves the State Department in January.
–Hamas and the Palestinians need to be pushed to moderation in the person of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, both eager to make a mark.
–Finally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 63-years-old and facing January elections, also should be thinking legacy. One never knows. The founder of his extreme right-wing party, Menachem Begin, was 65 years old when he began negotiating with Egypt and finally signed the Camp David Accords.
Generations of violence, misery and death must end. The future could break with the past.