The ceasefire between Israel and militant groups in Gaza has held so far. This is not least a result of prudent US and Israeli policies – which must now be strengthened.

Targeted counter-terrorism by Israel, a hail of rockets from the Palestinian territories on Israeli civilians, siren alarms in Tel Aviv, counter-attacks by the Israeli side. The most recent military escalation between Israel and the terrorist group “Islamic Jihad” pro-Iran is at first glance reminiscent of patterns that have unfortunately occurred so often in the past. But there is one key difference: Hamas is not taking part in this armed conflict.

Hamas in Gaza remains the key political and military force. Only they have the arsenal and infrastructure to seriously threaten Israel’s security from Gaza. It draws its illusion of legitimacy from the fight against Israel. According to the propaganda, unlike the corrupt Fatah in the West Bank, Hamas has never given up this fight.

The fact that the Hamas group is now resisting joining “Islamic Jihad” in the fight against Israel is remarkable. Non-participation in the conflict is a prerequisite for improving the situation in the Gaza Strip.

A major reason for this breaking out of the spiral of violence lies in Tel Aviv’s and Washington’s new course in Gaza policy. Under President Joe Biden and his Secretary of State Antony Blinken, realists like Hady Amr, who are more concerned about Israeli security than their own tactics in the Middle East, once again took the lead in Israel policy in the US State Department.

The broad coalition in Israel under the heads of government Naftali Bennett and Jair Lapid had the courage to respond to US proposals, which in particular want to show prospects for Gaza’s economic development.

The high population density, the Egyptian-Israeli blockade, but above all the mismanagement of Hamas have turned one of the oldest settlement areas of mankind into a poorhouse. The Israeli government, under the aegis of Defense Minister Gantz, allowed more exports from Gaza and granted Gazan Palestinians work permits in Israel.

The immediate economic consequences were felt throughout Gaza. For many Gazans, for the first time in a long time, there was a sense that something was moving: there is an alternative to the cycle of violence and poverty represented by Hamas and its even more extremist competitors like “Islamic Jihad.”

That is precisely the message that Israeli Prime Minister Lapid sent to residents of the Gaza Strip last week. In his statement, Lapid referred to the Abraham Accords, Israel’s new forms of cooperation and peace treaties with large parts of the Arab world. They serve as an example of how seemingly insurmountable enmities can become partnerships on an equal footing.

That he thinks of the Palestinians as part of the Abraham Accords is a testament to Lapid’s sincerity. Future issues must now be in the foreground instead of always circling around the same old wounds. Lapid’s message was a deeply humane and welcome gesture shortly after his country had to fend off a barrage of missiles.

This positive development must now be built on because it can defuse the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel’s friends, above all the German government, should encourage the Israeli leadership to continue pursuing the concept of “business for security”.

Prime Minister Lapid’s plan aims to improve Gaza’s electricity supply, modernize the health system and connect it to a gas pipeline. Such large steps are not to be expected shortly before the new Knesset elections. But even expanding the small economic facilitations that have been made for Gaza could further reduce the influence of the extremists on the population there and increase Israel’s security.

Recent experiences should encourage all democratic forces in Israel. Whatever coalition is found after the Knesset elections, it should continue to break new ground in relations with the Palestinians. And the federal government must find new ways to involve the Palestinian leadership under President Abbas in the Gaza issue.

All previous attempts to increase the influence of the internationally recognized government in Ramallah in the Gaza Strip had sooner or later failed. Chancellor Scholz should use his talks with Abbas this Tuesday to find ways to involve the PLO and the PA earlier, because only they can fill the vacuum left by the extremists.