Haaretz has a story on a possible cease fire between Israel and Hamas.
The initiative, discussed by representatives of Palestinian organizations in Gaza over the past several days, also includes an agreement to set up a unity government.
The Egyptian-initiated plan consists of freeing abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, a joint cease-fire and the cessation of IDF assassinations in the Gaza Strip. The release of Palestinian prisoners would be part of the deal, but come at a later stage.
It is not clear, however, whether the Hamas political leader in Damascus, Khaled Meshal, would agree to such a deal.
Representatives of several military factions in Gaza denied Saturday reports of a unilateral cease-fire. Palestinian sources stated that they are only willing to accept a joint truce that would include an end to Qassam fire in return for a halt in IDF actions in Gaza.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met Hamas parliament members and leaders in Gaza, urging them to accept the deal before American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's arrival on Monday.
Most Palestinian factions, including the Hamas leadership, have agreed to the Egyptian deal in principle, but argue that Israel will not be ready for a cease-fire as long as Shalit is held captive. Fatah's leadership also rejects a unilateral cease-fire at this stage.
Egypt, meanwhile, is continuing its efforts to persuade Hamas leaders overseas and in Gaza to free Shalit in exchange for Egyptian guarantees to release Palestinian prisoners later on, as part of a comprehensive cease-fire deal.
Dr. Salah al-Bardawil, head of the Hamas parliamentary faction, told Haaretz that if Israel stops its actions in Gaza, most Palestinian groups would accept a cease-fire.
I wonder how the Hamas leadership in Damascus will react to this if it really comes about? So far they are not the ones the bombs are dropping on.
H/T Captains Quarters .
Ed also has an interesting story on the possibility of a split between Syria and Iran, and the role Condi Rice's trip might play in exploiting such a split. The idea seems to be to isolate the Hezbellah more than they already are.
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