Death toll rises as Israeli military assaults Gaza Strip: “The death toll of Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip rose to 91 Monday, the local Health Ministry said, as shelling and airstrikes continued overnight and into the morning. Hoping to avert an Israeli ground invasion, foreign leaders stepped up efforts to broker a cease-fire. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was en route to Cairo, where he intended to “appeal personally for ending the violence,” a statement from his office said.” (Washington Post)

Why has Egypt’s Morsi only sent his prime minister to deal with Israel-Gaza problem? “Here’s a theory: Morsi is the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt but he is still president of Egypt. He thinks of Egypt as a great nation and is not given to the kind of language we associate with Al Qaeda leaders or the Ayatollah Khomeini, about states all disappearing and Islam being all that is left.  He wants Egypt to be, once again, a leader in Arab councils and in world politics. He does not want to have his foreign policy and his relations with Israel and the United States determined by Hamas. After all, Hamas rules a million and a half people in Gaza; he governs 85 million in Egypt. Why should the tail wag the dog?” writes CFR’s Elliott Abrams. (CFR)

Egyptians condemn Israeli attacks on Gaza, but most don’t want to go to war over them: “Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has condemned Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip in recent days and has sent high-level delegations in support of Hamas, the Brotherhood-aligned Islamist group that rules Gaza and that Israel considers a terrorist organization. But Morsi has sought peace, not war, and few in Cairo interviewed Sunday seemed to think it should be any different.” (Washington Post

“Finding a way out of the patterns of the past would not be easy for Israel or for Gaza, and the cynicism that often follows Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy such as the unofficial peace proposal draft of last week is informed by a long history of disappointments. The foreseeable exits from this cycle would require historic efforts to reach: Gazans rejecting the leadership of Hamas, for example, or Israelis moving West Bank Palestinians toward a political independence that could offer Gaza a better example, as the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg has suggested. At some point, though, the costs of the status quo may begin to exceed the costs of breaking it, if they have not already.” (Washington Post)

Room for Debate asks: As President Obama prepares for his second term in the White House, should he put an end to military commissions, used to prosecute captured enemies for war crimes, and finally close Guantánamo? (New York Times)

Brookings’ Bruce Katz and Mark Muro: The case for a federal house cleaning. (Politico)

AEI’s Andrew Biggs and Heritage’s Jason Richwine: Federal employees should be compensated at fair market levels, which would allow the government to hire and retain workers without overcharging taxpayers. An essential first step toward that goal is ensuring that the government’s annual pay comparison is objective and comprehensive. Unfortunately, the present system is neither.” (Washington Post)

Obama and the end of decline: “He should not be afraid to consider the hopes and expectations of the people who voted for him since he offered his supporters both explicit and implicit promises. But he should also think about the worries of those who voted against him. It turns out that the two groups have more in common than we (or they) might imagine,” writes Brookings’ E.J. Dionne. (Washington Post)

AEI’s Michael Barone: Avoiding the fiscal cliff. (National Review

Call it LIPAsuction: “Last week, Gov. Cuomo named a commission to figure out what went wrong with New York’s power grid to make post-Sandy recovery so torturous. With the Long Island Power Authority, the commission should focus less on what Cuomo called a “dysfunctional utility system,” and more on the state’s dysfunctional political system. Pols from Govs. Mario Cuomo to George Pataki, and plenty in between, crippled LIPA,” writes Manhattan Institute’s Nicole Gelinas. (New York Post)

Heritage’s James Carafano: Disbanding the “Band of Brothers.” (Washington Examiner)

CFR’s Amity Shlaes: 2013 looks a lot like 1937 in four fearsome ways. (Bloomberg)