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The Dog That Didn’t Bark

Did Israel achieve its strategic goals in Gaza? Haaretz thinks so:

Operation Pillar of Defense had two strategic goals—one, to reinstate the Gaza cease-fire with Hamas, which had unraveled in recent months amid increasing hostilities, and two, to stabilize the peace with Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood came to power.


Netanyahu showed it was possible to bomb Gaza and kill Hamas’ chief of staff without harming the peace with Cairo. In the new strategic environment generated by the ‘Arab Spring,’ this is no mean feat.

The protests against Israel’s attack on Gaza in the Arab world were, by and large, mellow. As Marc Lynch writes over at Foreign Policy:

Protests [against Israel] have happened, of course, but they have been relatively small and contained in Ramallah, Tunisia, Yemen and elsewhere.  The quite significant protests in Amman have remained largely focused on the lifting of fuel subsidies and political reform (including previously unheard of chants calling for the overthrow of the King) rather than shifting focus to Gaza.  Even in Cairo, Muslim Brotherhood mobilization and a major sermon by Yusuf al-Qaradawi in al-Azhar seems to have produced only a march of a few thousand.  I think it’s safe to say that most of us would have expected more.

It’s still too early to judge whether the new peace with Hamas will hold, and with Morsi making big moves in Egypt, the future of Israeli-Egyptian relations is still anything but an open book. But Netanyahu’s gamble—that despite the political changes roiling the region, the Middle East’s historical dynamics still hold—was a big one. Egyptian President Morsi, as Pillar of Defense began, said “Egypt today is different from yesterday, and Arabs today are different from yesterday.” Netanyahu begged to differ. His gamble appears to have paid off, at least for now.

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