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What to Do About Gaza

The current spasm of violence between Hamas and Israel is following a familiar, tragic pattern that reflects a broken status quo. Devising a viable solution will not be easy, but it is possible with a long-term process based on four principles.

STOCKHOLM – Gaza has long been one of those geopolitical problems that everyone wishes would just disappear. Israel, certainly, would prefer to seal off the Palestinian enclave – both from its own territory and from its collective mind. And notwithstanding occasional utterances to the contrary, Egypt tends to feel the same way. Whenever there is renewed talk of pursuing peace in the region, Gaza is almost always the issue that is left on the back burner.

True, humanitarian and relief agencies regularly issue detailed reports about the dire conditions facing Gaza’s two million inhabitants; they are trapped in one of the most densely populated, under-resourced places on Earth. Still, the audience for this accounting of deprivation and despair tends to dwindle whenever some new humanitarian crisis emerges elsewhere and commands the world’s attention. A lasting solution to Gaza’s misery thus remains forever out of sight.

The current outbreak of violence is following a familiar pattern: Hamas and its allies are firing barrages of rockets into Israel, which is responding with waves of air strikes. After each such conflict – the last major one was in 2014 – the situation returns to the broken status quo. The international community soon returns to business as usual, the humanitarian situation in Gaza deteriorates ever further, and the cycle eventually repeats.