A Ceasefire Is Far from Lasting Peace – A National Security Expert on the Israel-Hamas Deal

Yves here. Many readers have likely come to the conclusion put forth in the headline, that the Israel-Hamas ceasefire is better than a poke in the eye but does not come close to solution for the conflict, or even do much to advance a solution. This sad fact bears repeating as an antidote to the outbreak of MSM hopium, which no doubt cheers Biden Administration officials.

To add some points that are also important to keep in mind:

Even though Netanyahu is singularly responsible for advancing the anti-Palestine project, his ouster will not make a solution more likely. In fact, Netanyahu is more moderate than many in the governing group, so it’s probable that someone at least as hardline would replace him.

John Mearsheimer has stated a two-state solution is impossible and everyone advocating it ought to know that….which would seem to suggest their motives for touting  it are cynical. One insurmountable obstacle is that a Palestinian state would have its own military, something Israel would never tolerate. A second issue is the way  Israel has balkanize the area between Gaza and the West Bank, making any integration or even, say, land bridge very hard to implement. Third is what to do with the settlers They ought to be expelled, again something Israel would never accept.

By Gregory F. Treverton, Professor of Practice in International Relations, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Originally published at The Conversation

For the first time since the deadly attacks by Hamas on Israeli border towns on Oct. 7, 2023, that left at least 1,200 people dead, the Israeli government agreed on Nov. 22 to suspend its air and ground campaign in Gaza for four days in exchange for the release of at least 50 hostages held by Hamas.

Nearly six weeks in the making, the cease-fire deal also calls for the release of 150 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

The fate of the remaining hostages is still unclear.

What is clear is that the war will continue after the brief cease-fire. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Nov. 21 that the pause would allow the Israel Defense Forces to prepare further for the fighting.

“The war will continue until we achieve all of our goals,” Netanyahu said. Those goals include the return of all the hostages and the elimination of Hamas to ensure “Gaza will no longer be a threat to Israel.”

To make sense of the deal, The Conversation asked Gregory F. Treverton of USC Dornsife, a former chairman of the National Intelligence Council in the Obama administration, to share his thoughts on what it means for the ongoing war in Gaza.

Military Goals Unchanged

The agreement between Israel and Hamas – driven by U.S. pressure on Israel – to exchange 50 hostages for 150 Palestinian prisoners and to pause fighting for four days is surely a welcome break in a horrific war.

Not least, it will permit food and fuel to enter a devastated Gaza.

It does not, however, fundamentally change the awful geometry of the war: Netanyahu has pledged that Israel will continue the fight, and there seems little sign that Israel is any closer to a plan for what to do about Gaza or the Palestinians than when the war began.

For its part, events have played out much as Hamas might have planned.

They knew their barbarism on Oct. 7 would call forth a brutal Israeli response.

Hamas knew, cynically, that the more Palestinians who were killed, the better for its cause. Global opinion would shift against Israel, and its American patron, and it has. And Hamas likely expected the Palestinian statehood issue, all but forgotten by the world, including the Arab world, would return to international prominence.

In the process, Hamas probably anticipated it would, paradoxically, become more popular in Gaza, not less.

A Distant Hope for Lasting Peace

In the short run, the best that can be hoped is that this exchange and pause will be extended or be the first of more to come.

Certainly, Israel has been under global – and especially American – pressure to agree to some pause, and the Netanyahu “unity” government has felt the heat, domestically, for seeming to disregard the hostages.

In the longer run, after much more killing and suffering, the alternatives still remain dreary. Israel has no stomach for occupying Gaza and surely none for letting Hamas again pretend to govern. The Palestinian Authority remains corrupt, weak and inept in the eyes of those it governs, and as a result is a poor candidate to take on Gaza.

The best hope is a distant one – that some coalition of mostly Arab states but also perhaps including the U.S. could govern Gaza, perhaps exercising some tutelage over a reformed Palestinian Authority.

But that is a long way off, and the hostage exchange and pause does not take the region or the world much closer to a lasting peace.

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  1. geoff Gray

    “…perhaps including the U.S. could govern Gaza, perhaps exercising some tutelage over a reformed Palestinian Authority.”
    Yes, a brilliant insight– more American involvement in the middle east!

    1. The Rev Kev

      That was hilarious that bit. Any American stationed in Gaza would be shot on sight and no Arab nation would ever send their troops to Gaza to act as an occupation army on behalf of the Israelis to solve their problems. Would the US try building a Green Zone in Gaza City like they did in Baghdad? They would be under constant siege if they did like they were in Iraq. Israel might want to clear out Hamas from Gaza but do they have the army to do so considering that so many of them are conscripts? Hamas went head to head with Israel’s Golani Brigade on day one and demolished them and they were considered to be pretty good. And because the Israelis destroyed so many buildings, their armour cannot move through those streets in Gaza City as they are filled with building rubble. That would mean sending thousands of their soldiers through those rubble fields and I don’t think that Israel is really doing that. In short, they fell into Hamas’s trap.

      1. Susan the other

        Well, well. A long term coalition of Arab states and the US, and perhaps the UK. Gee. Who could have guessed? And I don’t recall ever seeing an actual member of the very mysterious Hamas. Is Hamas a spirit that Bibi conjures up as necessary? Bibi is short for Booga-booga, right?. I mean, he did actually make a city of 3 million people disappear.

    2. Feral Finster

      Like Iraq! That one worked out splendidly!

      Maybe the Libyans could operate some slave markets in Gaza? Call it a sort of franchise deal!

  2. john

    “former chairman of the national intelligence council”, well, that says it all….nothing but gibberish

    -How does he know that Hamas or the Islamic Jihad knew that the IDF would respond with genocidal tactics…
    -Coalition of arab states or even the US…tutelage…- absolutely ridiculous, so much for sovereign determination

    They can govern themselves if given the chance…funding for reconstruction, as always will come from the UN and the gulf monarchies.

    1. Donald

      Um, anyone would know Israel would respond with genocidal tactics. They are brutal and murderous towards Palestinians during ceasefires. They killed over 200 Gazans in the Great March of Return. A gigantic slaughter of Palestinians after Oct 7 was about as certain as anything could ever be in the world of politics and international relations.

    2. pjay

      Yes, his background is instructive. I also found this line from his Wikipedia bio noteworthy:

      “Treverton was one of the 51 former U.S. intelligence officials who signed the October 19, 2020, letter that said the Hunter Biden laptop story “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”[8]”


  3. Bill Malcolm

    Peculiar how the “cease-fire” and hostage exchange took place precisely over the long US Thanksgiving Day weekend. Americans could fill their bellies with roast turkey and all the trimmings, uninterrupted by reports and videos of Gazans being massacred by US-supplied bombs and ammo used by the IDF with gay abandon. The cease-fire timing was no mere coincidence in my view. Gotta keep the sheeple quiet.

    And tomorrow, back to the killing fields!

    1. JonnyJames

      I wasn’t around then, or too young to remember, but it was probably very similar during the war on Vietnam and SE Asia. Carpet bombing Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, hundreds of thousands of innocents slaughtered while ‘merka drank Coca Cola and went to Disneyland. (Congress and the public were initially in the dark about it though).

      Criticism of other countries’ bad deeds appear like gross hypocrisy by now. The US (and vassal-sycophants) will be judged on par with the most bloodthirsty, brutal regimes and empires in history. If the facts fit…

  4. nippersdad

    For a country that so consistently touts the rule of law, the US (and those who write for it in their vast scriptoria) never do seem to mention most of it. Reminds me of that aphorism about how if you have the facts with you, you pound the facts. If you have the law with you, you pound the law. If you have neither with you, you pound the table.

    There is an awful lot of table pounding going on here. Let me helpfully rewrite that first para for Mr, Treverton:

    For the first time since the Palestinian Resistance broke out of its’ concentration camp to wreak an embarrassing degree of devastation on the surrounding occupation forces on Oct. 7. 2023, thereby forcing Israel to show its’ fanny through the use of its’ secretive Hannibal Directive in which it killed the better part of fourteen hundred of its’ own citizenry and then lied about it, the Israeli government was forced by international pressure to cease its’ campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing for four days under color of the release of at least fifty POW’s.

    There, fixed it for him.

  5. pjay

    – “…Netanyahu has pledged that Israel will continue the fight, and there seems little sign that Israel is any closer to a plan for what to do about Gaza or the Palestinians than when the war began.”

    Of course they have a “plan” for what to do about Gaza. They are acting on it now. Flatten it with bombs, raze it to the ground, and herd the Palestinians who are left into an increasingly smaller cattle pen to the South on the Egyptian border. As Caitlin Johnstone said in a post today, Hamas is not the target, it is the excuse for carrying out the ethnic cleansing of Gaza.

    There is still some question as to whether they can carry out this plan completely against growing global resistance, but in my mind there is no question about the plan itself.

    1. Feral Finster

      Of course. That is why hospitals, schools and residences are especially targeted, to make Gaza uninhabitable.

      The West Bank is up next, and the US military is on standby if Hazbollah or Iran dare do anything about it.

  6. Alice X

    Tala Nasir, a Palestinian Attorney, just reported on DN (Nov 27 program, 36:35 minute mark) that since Oct. 7, 3,260 Palestinians have been detained by occupation forces in the West Bank. In the past three days there were 112 Palestinian detained, roughly equal to the number of those released in the hostage swap.

    Orly Noy, an Israeli journalist, explains that Israeli media uses the term terrorist for those detainees no matter what they did, or didn’t do.

    1. Feral Finster

      Their existence is crime enough for Israel. Even apartheid South Africa didn’t seek to exterminate the black population, just keep blacks cooped up and used as cheap labor.

  7. JonnyJames

    Luckily, the threats from Hezbollah and Iran did not materialize after the Israeli ground incursion into Gaza. For a moment, it looked like this would escalate into a regional war, or worse.

    John Mearsheimer is not the only one who knows that a “two-state solution” is not workable, and it has been used as a smokescreen and delay tactic while settlers steal more land, kill more Palestinians. The Oslo Accords were a stab in the back for Palestine. Folks like Ali Abunimah, Norm Finkestein and others have pointed this out for years.

    Sadly, Palestine is being turned into a patchwork of Bantustans while settlers continue to steal more land and ethnically cleanse the West Bank. The US continues to ship weapons, and support Israel “unconditionally”.

    It looks like Gazans will be forced into an even smaller areas, and the same for West Bank Palestinians.
    Although the tables appear to be turning, Palestinians will continue to suffer horrific atrocities for the foreseeable future. I don’t see much “hope” in the meantime.

  8. Mikel

    There hasn’t been any stop to additional weapons being sent to Israel.
    While Israel has its own military capabilities and stockpiles, it’s strange to me that the pressure from other countries doesn’t focus on making their elected reps do something that they have more direct control of.

  9. Eclair

    “Hamas knew, cynically, that the more Palestinians who were killed, the better for its cause.”

    Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, published in 1563, still sells on Amazon. It has reinforced the Christian, Protestant variety, faith for centuries. A Catholic version, found on my grandmother’s bookshelves, made for some of my favorite reading when I was in grade school. I loved the blood and gore! St Sebastian, tied to a stake and pierced with dozens of arrows. St Agnes, child ‘virgin and martyr,’ twelve years old when she was burned/stabbed by the Romans: powerful visions of believing and dying for a cause.

    Seattle has been holding regular Pro-Palestine rallies and marches every Saturday afternoon, organized by the local Palestinian diaspora. Plus occasional peaceful disruptions, such as a shutdown of the Space Needle (organized by Jewish Voice for Peace) and a hitch in the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Westlake Center. They are well-organized and, seemingly, growing larger, including other community activist groups, the local Native American tribes, American Indian Movement, Black community, who identify with colonialism and marginalization. Socialist organizers announced Saturday that there will be a meeting in December, with serious (?) aims of a third political party. Lots of ‘old hippies’ circulating with handouts from Socialists, Communists, Revolutionaries, etc. But, mainly, the organizers are young.

  10. Kouros

    Only by declaring Israel an Apartheid State, have it being boycoted and being treated by the whole world like Russia is treated now in the west, serious negotiations might start and a more just political solution found.

    Chances of that are very slim. I am waiting to see the Palestinians in Gaza being pushed in the sea, since now they are shot if they try to return to their homes in the north. There is no justification for that. Those people can be checked if they are Hamas or not and be allowed to pass. But the issue is not Hamas now, but getting Nakba 2.0 going on.

    When this will become more and more evident, I want to see the west and especially US political reaction.

  11. Craig Dempsey

    To expand on Elcair’s report on the Christmas Tree Lighting protest in Seattle, there was a similar protest in Portland, Oregon that was largely erased by the local media. TikTok has an alternate report on the Portland protest.

  12. Not Moses

    A distant peace/ solution for Palestinians because the US government, thanks to Citizens United, is owned and paid for by AIPAC, can never be an honest broker – that’s the obstacle.

    Following the “release of Jewish hostages”, Biden segued with two separate press conferences from a hotel in Nantucket to express his unwavering support for Israel, to praise the Jewish freed hostages and express hope more would be released. But, Biden never uttered a word in support of Palestinian “prisoners”, nor advanced a credible solution for an independent Palestine. And who can forget the bear hug for Netanyahu- a bloody predator of the Pol Pot kind.

    Who are the Palestinian terrorists (so designated by the IDF) detained?? According to Jeremy Scahill: { “The vast majority of the 300 Palestinian prisoners proposed for release by Israel are teenage boys. According to the list, 124 of the prisoners are under the age of 18, including a 15-year-old girl, and many of the 146 who are 18 years old turned so in Israeli prisons. According to the definitions laid out in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, these Palestinians were children when they were arrested by Israel…..

    Of the 300 names Israel proposed for potential release, 233 of them have not been convicted of any crimes; they are categorized simply as “under arrest.” This is a complete, verifiable farce. …… Palestinians are not prosecuted in civil courts; they are tried in military courts. They often are denied access to lawyers and to purported evidence against them, and are regularly held in isolation for extreme periods and subjected to other forms of abuse. Israel is the only “developed” country in the world that routinely tries children in military courts, and its system has been repeatedly criticized and denounced by major international human rights organizations and institutions.”}

    So, what’s up with Nantucket? The Biden clan usually spends the thanksgiving holiday at the home of oligarch and co-founder of the Carlyle Group, David Rubenstein. As everyone knows, the Carlyle Group is one of the top ten unregulated, private banks wielding unfathomable power through the financialization of the economy, domestic and foreign policy, not to mention legal policy. Gaza has no chance since Israel claims it doesn’t know who is who’s not Hamas associated, so “mow the lawn” it is. Biden is not shedding a tear for them since they can’t contribute to his re-election.

    The claims that there can never be a Palestinian state are false. As has been pointed out, Algeria suffered greatly at the hands of the French who also claimed that independence was impossible. Albert Camus wrote many essays noting that he could never imagine a free Algeria yet in the end, one million French citizens were repatriated safely at independence. The archipelago of concentration camps Palestine is can be united, absolutely nothing prevents it. Further, the notion that Palestine could never have an army, well, Singapore is a multicultural city state that works incredibly well without one. Other countries without armies? Switzerland, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, Costa Rica. What’s missing is the good will of honest brokers. Israel can’t afford to ditch the US, so one assumes it would be in the mix.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Algeria was a French colony so the French could go to France.

      The Israelis have no such obvious retreat. And the Israelis control their army and have US backing, while the French Algerians were not calling the shots.

      I also doubt the French had a realistic possibility of killing half the Algerians, which is what pursing the war in Gaza to the finish will produce between military deaths plus dehydration and disease.

  13. gcw919

    I have often wondered if the billions spent on arming Israel might have been better spent on establishing decent living conditions for Palestinians within Israel. Of course, that would imply a ‘One State Solution,’ where Palestinians would be granted equal rights. And the chances of that happening? Can’t the geniuses guiding American foreign policy see that this endless cycle of violence can never reach a solution that will lead to peace? At times like this, I’m grateful to be old, and that I won’t have to witness the complete unravelling of human society.

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