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How to make a Hamas, Israel ceasefire in Gaza stick

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This shift was accompanied by a strategic realignment, away from Syria and Iran, and closer to countries like Qatar, Egypt, and Turkey.

Hamas is now harvesting the fruits of this timely policy change, counting on the support of these strong regional powers, in stark contrast to the state of near-isolation the group faced in 2008. Both Qatar and Egypt now have a vested interest in continuing to back Hamas, while helping to enforce a ceasefire, and defuse future escalation of the conflict.

For Qatar, luring Hamas away from the Syrian-Iranian Axis represents an important political achievement. Such a conclusion boosts the tiny emirate's regional standing and marks a success in the ongoing competition between the Arab Gulf states and Iran.

For Egypt, the stakes of preventing escalation and an Israeli military ground invasion are even higher. Newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s handling of the crisis in Gaza will continue to be the acid test of the Muslim Brotherhood's capacity to balance between ideology and pragmatism. It also represents Mr. Morsi's chance to prove his government is actually different than the overthrown Mubarak regime.

On Gaza, Morsi faces two competing needs. He must continue to back Hamas, showing ideological consistency and responsiveness to the Egyptian public opinion. On the other hand, the president's support for the Palestinians in Gaza should not jeopardize Egypt's stability and security, as well as its need to preserve a good relationship with the United States. This in turn means abstaining from directly assisting Hamas and policing Sinai to ensure Hamas and other Gaza-based militants cannot re-arm. It also means preserving the peace treaty with Israel.

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