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Hopes for peace as Hamas agrees to truce

One only hopes

Agreement with Israel could lead to release of captured soldier, a new Palestinian government and an end to Gaza incursions

Conal Urquhart in Tel Aviv
Sunday November 26, 2006
The Observer

Palestinian militants have agreed to stop firing rockets into Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and a halt to targetted killings, it emerged last night.Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, telephoned Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, and told him that all Palestinian factions had agreed to a ceasefire from 6am this morning.

Olmert replied that if there was no rocket fire from Gaza, Israeli forces could stop their operations and begin to withdraw from Gaza. The ceasefire could bring an end to a spate of violence which has seen the death of more than 100 Palestinians in Israeli operations and two Israeli civilians killed by Palestinian rockets within the past month.

In Gaza, the Israeli army continued its offensive. Israeli tank fire killed one militant, and other Israeli fire wounded six Palestinians, including a 12-year-old boy shot in the head while standing outside his house.Palestinian militants have maintained a steady fire of rockets at Israeli areas close to Gaza. Although the crude rockets are very inaccurate, in recent weeks they have managed to hit town centres more frequently than before. If the ceasefire is successful, it could bring about a host of developments including the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured in June, Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners and the formation of a new Palestinian government. The agreed ceasefire only relates to Gaza and does not include the West Bank. Israel said it also included a stop to the digging of tunnels to Egypt, used to smuggle arms to the militants.

In an indication of a new atmosphere, Khaled Mashal, an exiled leader of the militant Hamas organisation, said in Cairo that his organisation was willing to give Israel the opportunity to negotiate on the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza for six months.If the Israelis did not take up the opportunity, he said, the Palestinians would reply with a third ‘intifada’.

‘Hamas will become stronger all resistance forces will become stronger … and will go on with a third uprising,’ he said. Mashal, who wields massive influence in Hamas because he is the main conduit for money, was in Cairo to discuss the release of Shalit and the formation of a new government with representatives of Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Egyptian government. He is seen as a hardliner in the Hamas movement with close ties to the military wing. The release of Shalit and the Palestinian prisoners, the formation of a government and the violence have become connected.

Abbas is hoping a comprehensive peace package will be the foundation for halting violence, launching new talks with Israel and lifting punishing economic sanctions imposed on the Palestinians since Hamas formed its government following an election victory in January.

Negotiations about the release of prisoners have continued for months. Mashal blamed Israel for the failure to reach a deal for the release of Cpl Shalit who was captured by Gaza militants during a raid into Israel.

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This entry was posted on 26 November, 2006 by in Israel, Palestine, Palestine Peace.

Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"