Sunday, November 26, 2006

Gaza Truce

Today a truce took effect between Israel and Palestinian leaders with regard to fighting in the Gaza Strip. So far there have been violations on the Palestinian side, with Hamas's military wing and Islamic Jihad claiming responsibility for three Qassam rockets fired at Israel early this morning. Israel, however, is not responding, and Palestinian forces have been deployed to try and stop what they call "rogue acts."

Many hope that if these cease-fire is successful, it will lead to a resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The truce comes right after Hamas's exiled hard-line leader Khalid Meshaal, agreed to a six-month window for negotiations leading to a Palestinian state. Today, he even backed away from the six-month deadline. The timing of all this is interesting, as Meshaal is often seen as a conduit for Syrian influence in Palestinian affairs. It may be that in the wake of the Gemayel assassination, Syria has come down hard in favor of calm in the territories, though that would suggest Gemayel's assassins came from an element of the Damascus regime other than that which is working the Palestinian portfolio, if it can be traced back to Syria at all.

A final point worth addressing is whether all this could suddenly lead to a peace deal. On first glance, that seems laughable, but it's worth remembering that Prime Minister Olmert's weakness could make him take the same path as Ehud Barak in staking his career to a bold gamble for peace. If so, let's hope everyone had learned the lessons of Taba.

(Crossposted to American Footprints.)


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