Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gaza Ceasefire??

The English version of the Israeli paper Yediot has a story citing 'Palestinian sources' claiming that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a two week ceasefire, to take effect within 72 hours:

According to the report, the sides have agreed on the truce, on the supervision of the smuggling issue, on the crossings and on lifting of the blockade imposed on the Strip.

According to the sources, the two sides are expected to agree on a ceasefire which will likely begin within 72 hours and last up to two weeks.

During this period of time, the parties will discuss the Israel Defense Forces' withdrawal from Gaza and the withdrawal's timing. Palestinian sources estimated that the pullback into Israel would be swift.

According to the sources, on the issue of the supervision mechanism it has been agreed that the international forces' presence would be on the Palestinian side of the Philadelphi route.

On this issue the sides are expected to discuss the identity of the supervisors and the international force. Hamas is interested in Turkish forces, while Israel is expected to demand a reinforced Western presence.

Simultaneously, Egypt will begin using the supervision equipment sent by the United States. This mechanism is aimed at reducing the smuggling of weapons through Hamas tunnels in the Rafah area to a minimum.

The operation of the crossings, particularly the Rafah crossings, will be based on an agreement from 2005 which includes the presence of European monitors, Israeli cameras and a force on behalf of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas will also be present at the crossings, but the location of its representatives has yet to be determined.

I have my doubts on this.

For one thing, if this is the basic outline of the agreement, it's difficult to see why even the Olmert government would agree to it. The Israelis, who have a real chance to smash Hamas for good would get absolutely nothing out of this except a reimposition of the old status quo that Hamas never kept anyway..and any 'truce' would only last until Hamas can replenish its rocket supply from Iran and is strong enough again to restart the war.

Admittedly, the Olmert/Livni/Barak triumvirate has surprised me before with with their abject stupidity, but I find it hard to believe that they're this clueless.

For another thing, I find it difficult to believe that Hamas' Gaza leadership is ready to defy Khalid Meshaal and their other Damascus bosses..unless there's been a major change.

I suppose we'll see in due time.

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