Middle East specialist Prof Bill Harris sees no sign of a
''miracle'' to break recurrent cycles of violence involving
Gaza but says the United States remains ''critically
important'' to finding a solution.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has been visiting the
Egyptian capital Cairo as part of efforts to promote a
ceasefire, proposals for which have already been advanced by
And US President Barack Obama has urged a ceasefire to end
the bloodshed, after the death of more than 500 Palestinian
civilians, while defending Israel's right to defend itself
against rocket attacks from Hamas, in Gaza.
Prof Harris, of the University of Otago politics department,
said all recent loss of life in Gaza, including the death of
hundreds of civilians, was ''terrible'' and the ''intractable
He believed a ceasefire was coming, but one was needed
immediately to halt the continuing civilian loss of life.
Asked if he could see a miracle happening which could stop
the recurrent cycles of violence involving Gaza, and result
in a wider settlement involving Gaza and the West Bank, he
was not optimistic.
Sometimes there had been talk of the rising economic power of
China and the role of other outside powers, such as Russia,
but the United States remained the only, main, ''critically
important'' actor that could help resolve longer-term issues
between the parties.
The United States had a crucial combination of military power
and ''soft power''- the latter a form of moral authority
arising from indirect influence and including the favourable
opinion of other nations.
US presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton had also
previously invested a great deal of ''presidential time'' in
trying to resolve issues involving Gaza and the West Bank but
this had ultimately proved unsuccessful.
It was in the interests of the wider world and New Zealand
for the United States to continue its efforts, and the US
ultimately was the country which could help bring a
''circuit-breaker'' to achieve an eventual overall peace
Complicating the peace process were the ambitions of some
other powers, including Iran, which had been supporting
Hamas, he said.