The analysis written here by Mouin Rabbani offers insight into the question of whether or not the ceasefire is to hold
It is difficult to predict whether or not the Israeli-Palestinian truce will be extended beyond its expiration on the morning of 29 November, or for that matter whether it will even last until then.†
There are a number of factors that would appear to encourage a resumption of the Israeli offensive. Many have pointed to Netanyahu, and his personal interest in prolonging the conflict in order to remain in power as a wartime leader and thereby avoid conviction on corruption charges. This is not irrelevant, but also at best a secondary factor. I donít believe the Israeli prime minister can drag the entire country into a war against its will in a transparent effort to save his political skin. And even if he did, it merely postpones the day of reckoning and buys him some time to cut a deal that would see him avoid a prison sentence.
Furthermore, his management of the war is placing severe strain on the governing coalition because he has been forced to make compromises with political rivals, and conclude agreements with the Palestinians, that would otherwise be unnecessary.
Rather, it is Israelís entire political and military-intelligence leadership that has the greatest interest in renewing the war. They are collectively and individually responsible for the 7 October debacle, the most catastrophic military failure in Israelís (admittedly short) history. Since that date and despite the most intensive bombing campaign in the history of the Middle East against a fairly modest adversary that doesnít possess a single airplane, tank, anti-aircraft battery, or APC, the Israeli military has failed to achieve anything of military significance - unless one considers raising a flag over a hospital and 10,000 tunnel memes the greatest battlefield accomplishment since the Soviet victory at Kursk.†
Israelís initial strategic objective was to expel the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip into the Sinai desert. Despite enthusiastic and energetic US support for this exercise in ethnic cleansing, particularly by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the initiative was stopped dead in its tracks by Arab opposition and Palestinian resolve. Israel and the US also vowed to eradicate Hamas root and branch, as both a military force and political movement, and jointly insisted there would be no truce until this was achieved. They also repeatedly proclaimed that only military pressure rather than negotiations would result in the recovery of their captives. One month later and they have negotiated and concluded an agreement with the architect of the 7 October attacks, Yahya Sinwar, for both an exchange of captives and a truce, and on conditions that closely mirror those proposed by Hamas before negotiations began. Israeli leaders and their US sponsors have a tendency to believe that where force fails to achieve an objective the solution is even greater violence, and this forms an additional incentive for them to resume hostilities.
Among these are forces within the Israeli governing coalition, not limited to Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, who see the current crisis as an opportunity: to reclaim the Gaza Strip for colonisation, to intensify settlement and ethnic cleansing of the West Bank, to further dispossess Palestinian citizens of Israel, and ultimately to make Greater Israel a reality. Others in the leadership believe this is an opportune time for a regional conflict, and are convinced that if they play their cards right, they can draw the US into a direct confrontation with Lebanon and perhaps even Iran.†
But there are also and perhaps more compelling reasons for an extension. The truce agreement has been structured to permit and encourage further exchanges of captives, which can only take place if the guns remain silent. Thus far, only Israeli and dual national women and minors are being released by the Palestinians. This was agreed in order to allay Israeli concerns that the US would prioritise the release of its own citizens and then abandon the negotiations, and to bolster Netanyahuís standing with the Israeli public. The US and European governments, who have functioned as Israelís partners in this war, thus have a real incentive to extend the truce, and can expected to make this preference known to Israel.†
Within Israel the Israeli public, which has clear memories of the 2011 Shalit prisoner exchange, has had a further demonstration that not one captive was recovered on account of military pressure, while dozens achieved freedom through negotiated agreements. And Qatar and Egypt have demonstrated their credentials as mediators that are able to deliver. They are reportedly already proposing a further 5-6 day extension of the present agreement. Public pressure on the government to continue with the truce could therefore be significant, and play a significant role.
Israelís military failures notwithstanding it is also the case that if it resumes operations, its most difficult challenges lie ahead rather than behind it. Cognizant of its mediocrity as a fighting force, it may choose to cut its losses and take satisfaction with the staggering levels of death and destruction inflicted upon the Gaza Strip.†
With Blinken largely sidelined in Washington, the US agenda appears to be increasingly dominated by concerns about regional conflict. A resumption of hostilities makes further such escalation a virtual certainty. US confidence in Israelís ability to fight a two-front war and potentially on three fronts is non-existent, as is Washingtonís appetite for another US war in the Middle East during an election year. Red Sea shipping (and rising insurance rates), attacks on US bases in Iraq and Syria, and the specter of confrontation with Iran, even if unlikely, are additional concerns. US client regimes in the region appear largely secure, but threats to their††stability could emerge suddenly. While unprecedented demonstrations against Bidenís complicity in the Gaza killing fields and the possibility of Democratic voters sitting out the 2024 elections in disgust are a factor, Biden seems wholly unconcerned and determined to stay the course despite the political cost. In any case, and particularly in recent decades US elections are decided by dollars not voters Ė about half of whom typically donít vote in presidential elections anyway.
European governments are more susceptible to public opinion and electoral consequences, and some of these have begun to advocate less or even no further mass killing in Gaza. Arab states, and other US partners globally, would prefer that this ended yesterday.
Informed by Israelís instrumentalization of ceasefires during the 1982 Siege of Beirut to advance militarily, I initially believed the truce unlikely to last more than a few hours. But conditions in 2023 are fundamentally different. While it is true that Israelís lust for revenge appears insatiable, the uncompromisingly tough talk coming from Defense Minister Gallant and others may prove to be cover for accepting a truce extension on the pretext that Israeli threats made it possible.
Hamasís ability to remain intact, and Israelís inability to defeat it, makes an extension of the truce both more and less likely. Again, one can at this stage only speculate, but I suspect there will be a temporary extension, Israel will at some point launch a final, furious assault, and its failure may prove to be the point where the end comes in sight.
Source: Finkelstein's substack.