Hamas has publicly annunced its terms for establishing a cease fire with Israel as Egypt works behind the scenes to broker a truce that would end Gaza rocket attacks and Israel bombings. Hamas Gaza leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said, “There must be a commitment by Israel to end all its aggression against our people, assassinations, killings and raids, and lift the (Gaza) siege and reopen the crossings.” He said a cease fire agreement should be “reciprocal, comprehensive and simultaneous” and should apply both to Gaza and the West Bank. He followed with the normal Hamas rhetoric about not abandoning “our people in the West Bank.”
Egyptian negotiators are attempting to hammer out a deal under which rocket attacks would cease and troops under the command of President Abbas would control crossings. The agreement is in keeping with the 2005 crossings arrangement between the US, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority wich called for placing the crossings under forces loyal to Abbas. Damascus-based Hamas leader Mohammed Nasser said his group was willng to agree on a cease fire if both sdes respected one.
The conditions for a cease fire are now in place. Step one in any movement toward peace is ending violence. A cease fire agreement will not resolve all issues between Palestinians and Israel, but it will prove if a cease fire agreement can be kept, other such arrangements might also be respected by both sides. The road to peace sometimes begins with small steps.