Israel is saying its cabinet will vote on a unilateral cease fire in Gaza tomorrow, Saturday.
Alalysts say the decision may mean that Israel has decided to end the operation in Gaza, “Cast Lead,” without an agreement with Hamas, relying instead on the support of the United States and Egypt.
Most insiders in Israel say Israel will end the fighting unilaterally on Saturday evening, and respond with “certain force” to any Hamas provocation.
Haaretz reported that “A government source emphasized that there has been great progress with Egypt in reaching an agreement on fighting arms smuggling. The deal would require the combined use of technological measures to fight smuggling on the border between Gaza and Egypt, operations against smugglers in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, and the use of international experts to identify smuggling tunnels on the border. ”
Israel also believed that the U.S. offer to prevent the rearming of Hamas merited a trip by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to the U.S. State Department for a meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The two inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the prevention of the rearming of Hamas.
U.S., Israel Sign Agreement Aimed At Preventing Rearmed Gaza, Hamas
“We have what we need not. Hamas has agreed not to shoot rockets. And the United States and Egypt have agreed to not allow the rearming of Hamas. It is not perfect but it is a good outcome,” one senior Israeli told us.
Israel’s decision is being welcomed by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, and others who have been urging an end to the fighting.
Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (L) shakes hands with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during their meeting in Tel Aviv January 15, 2009, in this picture released by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO).
The decision to start a cease fire unilaterally would avoid a prolonged and difficult negotiation with Hamas, an organization that has vowed to destroy Israel.
The Jerusalem Post said, “A unilateral decision is likely after Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal rejected Israel’s conditions for a truce and called on all Arab countries to cut ties with the Jewish state during a summit of Arab leaders in Doha, Qatar. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar Assad gave Mashaal their full backing, but significantly, both Egypt and Saudi Arabia boycotted the summit.”
Turkey said today that Israel should not be allowed to return to the U.N., adding another nation to the anti-Israeli faction.
“How is such a country, which totally ignores and does not implement resolutions of the U.N. Security Council, allowed to enter through the gates of the UN (headquarters)?” Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan said during a meeting at the ruling AK Party’s headquarters in Ankara Friday.
According to Israeli radio, Cairo will host a truce summit on Sunday with Israeli officials and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expected to attend. Israeli television said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni would attend.
The Israeli “unilateral” vote was set hours after the U.S. agreed to provide assurances on ending weapons smuggling into Gaza as part of a cease-fire, the Associated Press noted.
AFP reported that Russia has called on Iran and Syria to persuade Palestinian Islamist group Hamas to accept a plan pushed by Egypt to end the fighting in Gaza, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.
“We are sending the appropriate signals to Hamas representatives and to those states that have influence on Hamas, meaning above all Iran and Syria,” of the need to accept the Egyptian plan, Lavrov said at a news conference.
From the Jerusalem Post:
Gaza Cease Fire: Now What?