August 5th, 2014
01:02 PM ET

As Cease-Fire Holds, Attention Shifts to Peace Talks in Cairo

As a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire continues to hold between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, the world looks to the early stages of peace talks in Cairo.

An Israeli delegation arrived Tuesday evening in Cairo for negotiations, two senior Egyptian government officials told CNN.

Palestinians and Israelis will talk first about ending the current conflict, and then can focus on conditions for a lasting truce.

On "New Day" Tuesday, CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen and Aaron David Miller, a former adviser for Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, offered historical context and perspective on the current situation.

Forget about the larger issue of a two-state solution, they agreed.

The Israelis really want to demilitarize Gaza but “it’s gonna be very hard to do,” Miller said.

Hamas has called for the end of the blockade, and economic freedom for Gaza.

For now, both experts agree the challenge is for Israel and Hamas to compromise on these issues so they can hold this cease-fire and ensure a durable peace.


Gergen described the relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama as 'very rocky' right now, but he said it's important the U.S. keeps talking to Israel behind the scenes.

This, despite the fact the President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu don't trust each other, and "there are many signs that they loathe each other," Gergen said.

Netanyahu thinks that Obama is weak and unreliable.

President Obama feels very strongly the Israeli prime minister is bull-headed and not a team player.

After Secretary of State Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tried to broker a cease-fire directly with Hamas, Israel has seemingly lost some faith in Kerry, too.

"They sort of think he's grandstanding," Gergen said.

He believes these feelings "color the negotiations" and Egypt will be in the lead role to try and settle the current conflict.


Hamas and Israel essentially agreed to the same deal that Egypt offered the parties last month.

So what's different?

Gergen argued that it is the fact that Israel has accomplished its military missions and can now pull back.

IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told CNN Tuesday 32 tunnels were destroyed in the four-week conflict.

They can go to Egypt now, Gergen said, and regardless if a deal emerges or not, they've still protected their security.

Miller said there is more urgency for both Israel and Hamas now as "the costs of confrontation were clearly getting out of hand."

However, Miller offered context for the tenuous situation, saying that lasting peace in the region has always been elusive.

"Nobody ever  lost money betting against Arab-Israeli peace."


Gergen said, in the past, the old formula was Israel would trade land for peace.

In this round of talks, he avers, it will be access to economic prosperity for peace.

You give us peace in Israel, we'll allow you to trade and rebuild your community, Gergen outlined.

But who do they have to convince?

The difficulty here is that the military wing of Hamas is still in control and they won't relinquish the control they have in Gaza, Miller said.

"The reality is, they think they've won."

The political and military leadership are in tact, and they have also created the first Palestinian army in Gaza.

Regardless of the PLO and Palestinian Authority at the table, "Hamas is not giving up control of Gaza and that is gonna prove to be a critical challenge," Miller said.


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