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Gaza cease-fire: Clinton role shows US still dominant in tough neighborhood (+video)

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Clinton’s apparent success in defusing the Israeli-Palestinian fight could influence how Obama approaches the Syrian conflict, some analysts suggest, if it serves as a reminder that Middle East conflicts often threaten to expand into broader wars if diplomatic efforts – led by the US – don’t intervene first.

That is not to say the challenge Clinton faced from the moment she landed in the region Tuesday was an easy one.

The situation she stepped into in stops in Jerusalem and Ramallah, and on Wednesday in Cairo, presented a Middle East quite different from the one US diplomats, including Clinton, have encountered in recent years and decades.

The changed landscape is one reason an anticipated cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians fell through Tuesday night.

On Tuesday some Arab diplomats spoke confidently of an impending cease-fire that would allow breathing space for more substantive negotiations on a long-term settlement of issues between Israel and Hamas. But those assertions proved illusory, as Israel appeared to stick to its demands that a “long-term solution” to rocket-fire into southern Israel from Gaza be reached at the outset.

With no agreement in place Wednesday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued to hold out the prospect of launching a ground offensive into Gaza. In the meantime Israel continued to hit targets in Gaza, while rockets continued to sail toward Israeli territory and a bomb exploded on a bus in Tel Aviv.

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