Sixteen days after Hamas’s attack on Israel, a long-signaled ground invasion has yet to begin.
One reason for the delay is a desperate flurry of last-minute diplomacy. Another is a debate within Israel’s government about what kind of war it wants t0 execute. Every Israeli war is fought watching the clock, as international condemnation grows and eventually America qualifies its support.
As one Israeli official puts it, “our window of international legitimacy is limited.” That usually points towards using maximum force to inflict punitive damage and re-establish deterrence fast before the window closes.
But this time may be different. The best way to try to extend Israel’s “window of legitimacy” with its Western and Arab allies would be to signal that it is prepared to participate in some kind of plan for the Palestinians if it succeeds in removing Hamas. Gaza would need a credible Palestinian administration, with the backing of Arab nations, in order to rebuild and ensure Hamas does not return.
Read more at The Economist