It's easier to assign responsibility for the latest fighting between Israel and Hamas than to find a solution. Israel has a duty to protect its people from the indefensible and intolerable barrage of rocket attacks coming from the Hamas-controlled Gaza. Its people have a right to live in peace. Any country facing Israel's situation would feel obliged to resort to the same forceful defensive measures.
But Israel needs to solve this problem, not merely manage it. The strategy of episodic reprisals — "mowing the grass," some call it — is not a long-term solution. Further complicating the picture, the "Arab Spring" has made it harder for countries like Egypt to stay out of a conflict in which Palestinians are portrayed as victims by Arab media.
This makes it urgent for the other countries of the region, particularly Egypt and Turkey, to help negotiate a truce that can open the way to peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. That will require all parties to give something.
Hamas' offer — an end to the Israeli attack and targeting of Hamas leaders, as well as having Israel lift its naval blockade of Gaza, while Hamas commits itself to nothing — is a nonstarter. What Hamas must do, at a minimum, is promise a protracted halt to all attacks while negotiators work on an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.
Israel would have to commit to genuine talks over the Fatah-led West Bank to provide Palestinians there the hope of a better life and offer a model that the people of Gaza can strive for. The United States can do its part by dragging both sides to the negotiating table.
None of this is likely to happen unless the people of Gaza renounce the leadership of Hamas. By now they must surely realize that as long as they live under the rule of terrorists, they will never have a better future.