Hamas–Israel Cease Fire Imminent

There are reports a cease fire is imminent between Hamas and Israel due to efforts by Egyptian mediator Omar Suleiman, head of Intelligence. It appears once the cease fire is in place Israel and Hamas will conclude final arrangements for the exchange of captured Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit. An important factor in facilitating the exchange will be the number of Palestinian prisoners Israel is willing to release. Yesterday, an American military mission arrived in Gaza to assist Egyptian authorities who are monitoring tunnels through which Hamas smuggles materials. Israel is insistent the smuggling as well as rocket attacks from Gaza must cease.

Meanwhile, Israel and Syrian negotiators concluded the current round of talks that are being mediated by Turkey. The greater is Israel’s involvement in negotiating with Syria or Hamas the more difficult it will be for Israel to object if a new American president seeks to meet with regional leaders. Ironically, President Bush in his speech to the Israel parliament denounced negotiations with terrorists even as the Israel government was engaged in such discussions. Will Bush now term Israel as “appeasing terrorism?”