Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hope in Gaza?

Hamas and Israel have agreed to a truce to begin Thursday morning. The first phase of the truce is a simple cessation of violence and a "partial reopening of Gaza's borders." The second phase may see movement on the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said: "Words are important, deeds much more so.

If indeed we see an end of hostile terrorist attacks from Gaza into Israel, if indeed we see the end to the Hamas military build-up inside the Gaza Strip, if indeed we see movement on the issue of our hostage Gilad Shalit, then of course it'll be an entirely new situation.

Here's some more good news - Hamas and Fatah appear ready to talk:

Mr Yousef said that the aim now was to push ahead talks on a prisoner exchange, as well as a new round of talks in Cairo between the rival factions of Fatah and Hamas.

A delegation from Fatah has already traveled to the Gaza Strip from the West Bank for talks with other party members.

The group is the first representing Mr Abbas to go to Gaza since Hamas seized control. Hamas has said it is prepared to hold talks with the Fatah officials, but there has been no word from Fatah on whether such a meeting will take place.

A big nod of respect and gratitude to Egypt for mediating this truce. Let's hope the extremists in Gaza abide by it. As long as they stop their violence, Israel will not have to defend itself, and life will be easier for all involved.

I would argue that the isolation of Hamas in Gaza, which has led to the deteriorating conditions there, has been the prime mover in this case. Isolating Hamas and depriving it of the ability to govern effectively has forced Hamas into a weakened position, allowing this truce to happen.

Of course, there's always the possibility - nay, the likelihood - that Hamas only wants this truce so they can re-arm and regroup for another assault on Israel. That's happened before.