Israel And Hamas For Peace At Last?

Posted: January 8, 2009 in Life, World
Tags: , , , , ,
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, hugs his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy at the end of a press conference on Tuesday Jan. 6, 2009 in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. Sarkozy said Wednesday Jan. 7, 2009 that Israel and the Palestinian Authority have accepted an Egyptian-French plan for Gaza.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, hugs his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy at the end of a press conference on Tuesday Jan. 6, 2009 in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. Sarkozy said Wednesday Jan. 7, 2009 that Israel and the Palestinian Authority have accepted an Egyptian-French plan for Gaza.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Israel and Hamas scaled back their fighting in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and weighed a cease-fire proposal from Egypt and France, even as Israeli leaders considered a deeper assault into the Palestinian group’s urban strongholds.

Fighting on the 12th day of the air, land and sea offensive all but stopped for three hours during a unilateral Israeli pause that allowed humanitarian relief. Israeli officials said they wanted to give diplomacy a chance, indicating that a decision either to end or intensify the operation, aimed at halting rocket fire into Israel, could come by week’s end.

It was the first letup in an Israeli assault that has killed more than 700 Palestinians, of whom the United Nations says more than 400 are civilians. Ten Israelis have been killed since the fighting began, three of them civilians struck by Palestinian rocket fire.

Like Israel, Hamas said it was studying the cease-fire proposal, which is being fleshed out in talks among the United States, Israel, European nations, Egypt and other Arab states. Egypt said it planned to hold separate talks with Israeli and Hamas representatives in Cairo, Egypt, starting today.

‘Given the diplomatic efforts, I am confident that we can agree within 48 hours on a formula both sides can accept,’ Ahmed Yusuf, a senior adviser to the Hamas government in Gaza, told Israel’s Ynet news.

In Jerusalem, Israeli leaders appeared to be seeking a way out of the bloodiest conflict in Gaza since Israel occupied the seaside enclave during the 1967 Middle East War.

Discussion on how to end the operation gained momentum after two events Tuesday: the cease-fire proposal offered by France and Egypt; and the Israeli shelling of a United Nations-run school in Gaza that killed 43 civilians, raising international pressure on Israel to withdraw.

‘Israel has reached an undesirable point,’ Giora Eiland, a retired brigadier general, told Israel Radio. ‘We have become the isolated party.’

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