[Marxism] WSJ: Israel, Hamas Appear to Reach Gaza Cease-Fire Pact

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Jun 17 23:28:11 MDT 2008


("A truce could also give legitimacy to Hamas 
following years of efforts, led by Israel and 
the Bush administration, to diminish the group. 
The accord is the latest of many signs that 
those efforts have failed.")
=================================================

Israel, Hamas Appear to Reach Gaza Cease-Fire Pact
Deal Could End
Months of Violence
And Ease Isolation
By CAM SIMPSON
June 18, 2008; Page A7

JERUSALEM -- Israel and Hamas appeared Tuesday to agree on a cease-fire in the Gaza
Strip, which could halt rocket attacks into Israel while easing Gaza's isolation.

The Egyptian government has been brokering talks for months between Israel and the
Islamist militant group, which controls the Palestinian enclave. Egypt's official
news agency quoted a senior official in Cairo as saying the two sides agreed to 
cease hostilities at 6 a.m. Thursday. Hamas leaders held a news conference in Gaza
Tuesday night and confirmed the Egyptian statements.

Six Palestinian gunmen are killed by Israeli air strikes ahead of a reported truce
between Israel and the Islamist militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
The cease-fire is set to start Thursday June 19. Video courtesy of Reuters.

Mahmoud al Zahar, a top Hamas official whose son was killed in an Israeli strike
in January, said leaders of the enclave's many other factions had also agreed
to stop launching homemade rockets and mortars into Israeli communities near Gaza's
borders starting Thursday. Hamas said the truce's term is six months.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev would neither confirm nor deny whether the
first phase of the deal would begin Thursday. He also wouldn't say whether a
formal agreement had been reached.

He suggested a deal could move forward if the calm was real come Thursday. He said
Israel would be watching what happened on the ground, adding, "words are important,
but deeds are much more so."

Mr. Regev also repeated Israel's long-stated demands that Hamas stop firing 
at Israeli civilians, stop amassing weapons inside Gaza and release a captured Israeli
soldier. If all of these things happened, he said, "that will be a very new
reality."

In a speech Tuesday night, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak sounded cautious,
but said Israel would give a cease-fire every chance, the Reuters news agency reported.

Islamic Jihad supporters carry the body of Motaz Tafesh, killed in an Israeli air
strike east of Gaza, during his funeral in Gaza City on Tuesday.

Mr. Zahar said the terms require Israel to begin easing its economic isolation of
the territory if the quiet holds for 10 days. Israel is expected to gradually increase
the flow of goods. His statements were in line with the general terms discussed 
by parties to the talks.

The enclave, which is home to about 1.5 million Palestinians, has been under a U.S.
and Israeli-led blockade since Hamas seized control of the small coastal strip bordering
Israel and Egypt one year ago.

Mr. Zahar also said talks on opening Gaza's Rafah border crossing with Egypt
were to begin a week from Thursday. Talks would include Egypt, the European Union,
Hamas and Hamas's rivals in the U.S.-backed Palestinian government in the West
Bank.

Gaza militants forced the border open temporarily earlier this year when they used
torches and explosives to bring down a massive iron curtain erected by Israeli forces
along the boundary.

Intensified talks on swapping Palestinian prisoners for a captured Israeli soldier,
Gilad Shalit, are expected to unfold if all sides live up to their commitments. 
But Cpl. Shalit's release isn't part of the package.

Khalil al Hayya, another senior Hamas official in Gaza, said at Tuesday night's
news conference that Hamas leaders had attended talks in Cairo eight times since
January.

Israel and Hamas have long been locked in a spiral of violence that ebbs and flows.
Militants in Gaza fire rockets and mortars over the enclave's Israeli-built 
walls and into communities in Israel's Negev Desert. Israel strikes Gaza in 
operations that it says are aimed at stopping such attacks, hitting with missiles
or ground assaults, often in civilian areas where militants both operate and hide.

If the truce happens, it would be the first since late 2006. That accord frayed 
in 2007.

A truce could also give legitimacy to Hamas following years of efforts, led by Israel
and the Bush administration, to diminish the group. The accord is the latest of 
many signs that those efforts have failed.

Meanwhile Tuesday, Israel might have given the cease-fire's chances of success
a boost by assassinating leading militants from a Gaza-based extremist group that
has pledged its loyalty to al Qaeda. The group, the Army of Islam, has been strongly
at odds with Hamas and could threaten any truce by firing its own rockets into Israel.

The Israeli Defense Forces said an airstrike killed three of the Army of Islam's
top leaders. Three others also were reportedly killed.

The group was involved in Cpl. Shalit's 2006 abduction and the kidnappings of
foreign journalists in Gaza, including the BBC correspondent Alan Johnston.

=========================================
     WALTER LIPPMANN
     Los Angeles, California
     Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
     http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/
     "Cuba - Un Paraíso bajo el bloqueo"
=========================================




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