The only way to put a stop to the regular outbreaks of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to start by securing a cease-fire and then looking for a long-term solution, Martin Indyk, a diplomat with a long history of working in the region, said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.
"Either you just kind of restore the status quo ante -- and we know where that leads, conflict again in another two years, if not sooner -- or you try to find a more comprehensive resolution which starts in Gaza with trying to take control of Hamas and reestablishing the Palestinian Authority's control and then leads to a renewed effort to try to solve this Israeli-Palestinian conflict," he said.
Indyk was the U.S. Special Envoy for the most recent round of negotiations that collapsed earlier this year, and previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Israel and the Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton administration. He acknowledged that a long-term political resolution is difficult, but is the best way forward.
What a cease-fire requires above all, he said, is "is for Hamas to decide that its in its interest to stop firing those rockets."
Secretary of State John Kerry, who pushed for negotiations when he took over as Secretary of State last year, said he is planning to go to the Middle East "very shortly" to deal with the increasingly bloody conflict in Gaza.
"We support the Egyptian effort to have a cease-fire, which Israel joined into, which does not have preconditions. And then there is a promise of sitting down and dealing with those underlying issues that need to be dealt with," Kerry said. "But Hamas is trying to insist that as a reward for their terrorist behavior, things be decided ahead of time. And we support Israel and the international community's right not to be extorted by terrorism."
Indyk predicted that Kerry will go to Cairo, where other leaders including U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have traveled to discuss options to deal with the conflict.
Abbas, he said, needs to be the focus of diplomatic efforts because his reconciliation agreement with Hamas makes him the only leader who can take control of Gaza.
"That obviously is a long and difficult process but it needs to start with a cease-fire. So the question is whether Egypt, the United States, perhaps with the help of Qatar which provides the financial leverage, can convince Hamas that it's in the interest of the Palestinian people now to stop firing in favor of a process that leads to the Palestinian Authority taking control in Gaza."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking a demilitarization of militants in Gaza, which Indyk says cannot be done by Israeli force alone or it will lead to increasing casualties on both sides.
The alternative is to "have some international force oversee the process of disarming all of the militias in Gaza in the context of a political process that leads to the lifting of the siege of Gaza, reconstruction in Gaza," Indyk said. "All of that can only be done through the Palestinian Authority, and an international force, perhaps a U.N. mandate to do that in cooperation with the Palestinian authority," Indyk said.
He said demilitarization can only occur where there is "a different future for the people of Gaza, one in which life can return to normal, the restrictions on the passages and the flow of goods and people are removed."
"That can only happen in the context of a disarming," he continued. "So it needs to be in effect a package deal in which the international community and the legitimate authority, which is the Palestinian Authority, together insist that Hamas now go along with a process that will serve the Palestinian people in Gaza."