As Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian negotiators in Cairo try to come up with a long-term truce, all know that they are just buying time until the next Gaza war.
This latest round left a very high body count and a lot of unanswered questions.
One of the first questions should be how many casualties were there really in Gaza, who were they and how did they die or get wounded. The source of data in Gaza has been the Palestinian Health Ministry, which is under Hamas control, which undermines its credibility. And how many were victims of rockets fired from Gaza but never made it across the border? How many actually died of natural causes or non-war-related causes and how many were executed as suspected "collaborators" with the Zionists?
Here are a few more questions:
— Do negotiations really matter since both sides have been better at finding reasons to break their commitments than to keep them?
— What didn't the international media covering Gaza tell us because of pressure and threats from Hamas? Will they tell us now? Particularly about locations of mortar and rocket launchers, tunnels and snipers.
— In view of Qatar's and Turkey's increasingly close relationship and support for Hamas, should the United States be reexamining its security and intelligence cooperation with those countries and the safety of American personnel and facilities there?
— Was Hamas the loser because none of its missiles hit Israeli population centers, it failed to grab any hostages, its tunnels were destroyed and the Arab world failed to support it?
— Or was Israel the loser because it failed to disarm Hamas and demilitarize Gaza, because some Europeans threatened to halt arms sales, because relations with the United States were badly strained and because the war sparked widespread anti-Israel and anti-Semitic demonstrations?
— In view of the relatively minor damage inflicted by rockets and mortars from Gaza, was Israel's response disproportionate?
I have no answers but I do have a lot more questions, and you can find them in my Washington Watch column.
Finally, here's a multiple-choice question: When does the next round of fighting begin? A) in a few days B) a few months C) a few years D) No one knows.