Ed: 34: February/2009
Because Hamas is not likely to stop firing rockets at Israel as long as it has them, the sine qua non of any durable ceasefire is ending Hamas' smuggling of rockets and other weapons into Gaza from Egypt.
Having Hamas as a neighbour is like living next door to a serial killer who abuses his children and threatens to kill them if you go in after him. You can defend yourself but if the police won't arrest him the only choices left are to build a wall around him, stop him from getting weapons, and send in food.
Hamas has the ability to rehabilitate itself and this should not be taken lightly. But this time it will be hard to mollify Palestinian public opinion. There is no enthusiasm for Hamas' period in power; its fighting prowess has hardly inspired awe, and there is no longer any faith in its leaders.
Behind the scenes in the war between Hamas and Israel, there was a party playing a key role that aspires to be the big winner in the fighting - Iran. As in the Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah, Iran is gaining precious time to promote the leading strategic goal of its policy in recent years: attaining nuclear weapons capability.