msnbc News   |  November 22, 2012

Cease-fires often fragile in Mideast

Former Ambassador to the U.N. Stuart Holliday explains the ongoing delicate diplomacy keeping the conflict between Israel and Hamas from escalating.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> joining me now, former u.s. ambassador to the u.n. for special affairs, stewart is a special assistant to the president and is currently president and ceo of the nonpartisan meridian international center in washington. welcome, stewart , thank you for being here on thanksgiving.

>> good morning.

>> you were also partly raised in the middle east . your father served in the foreign service . you've seen firsthand from a young age that cease-fires have a history of collapsing. do you feel this one is different?

>> well, no, actually, they're very fragile in the middle east . these cycles can break down at any moment. but in this case, what you have is the emergence of a consensus that, you know, on the israeli side, the cost of a ground invasion was not something that they sought. and also, on the palestinian side, that, you know, israel has such a strong military superiority, that looking at a way to kind of get the talks restarted is really the outcome that people look for here. but in the middle east , the memories are long. of course, this is a cycle that's been going on for half a century. so i think they look at it with skepticism. but the only thing we can do really is to work on getting a process started again.

>> yeah. well, you take it step by step . and in just a few hours, we're supposed to move into a new phase of the cease-fire agreement for israel to ease its blockade of gaza . israel is insisting the blockade is necessary, because they want to prevent weapons from transporting into gaza .

>> a lot of this has to do with the rockets getting into the gaza strip from egypt up through sudan and controlling these access points , these tunnels. i think the israelis made a very concerted effort during this last eight-day campaign to go after those caches of rockets and rocket-launching facilities. as far as the border is concerned, i'm sure there's a lot of international pressure to get more humanitarian assistance in. i can see there would be part of some deal where you would have, you know, under international supervision more access for the civilian population, which again, is about 1.7 million in gaza . a densely populated area. but much more of a tighter role for the security forces from egypt, and from the international community , making sure that these rockets don't get in.

>> okay. stewart holiday, thanks for weighing in. have a good one.