As the conflict in Gaza entered its 19th day (or 8 years and 19 days depending on your perspective), the world increases its pressure for cease-fire talks to stop being talks and become reality.
According to reports Hamas are getting closer to sitting down at the table and have provided Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Abul Gheit, with detailed proposals of their demands. In turn the Egyptians, appear to not be entirely comfortable with all elements of the plan, according to Al-Jazeerah.net, saying that, “We will tell the Israelis what we have obtained from our brothers Hamas,” “There are Hamas positions that we will discuss with the Israelis in the context of all the elements of [Egyptian] President [Hosni] Mubarak’s initiative. We hope that things will move forwards but we will not enter into details.”
Talk has emerged of a week long humanitarian cease fire but it isn’t clear where this idea originated. Reports in the Jerusalem Post suggest a clear rift between Israeli PM, Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni. With Barak seemingly floating the idea of a longer ceasefire through less than official lines. It is becoming apparent that the forthcoming elections are encroaching into the way the conflict may be managed by Israel’s leaders, and a cease-fire may be being viewed as a please-fire, with votes up for grabs.
Pensioners Minister, Rafi Eitan, had foreseen the possibility of the politicisation of the conflict from the outset and called for a postponement of the elections until after the conflict had ended. Thus far those calls have been ignored.
“The people of Israel must be given an opportunity to vote for their new leaders with clear heads, it is impossible to make rational judgements while the country is being hit with missiles and while its sons and daughters are involved in defending its citizens from attack” Said Noam Bedein, Director of the Sderot Media Centre.
Israeli envoy Amos Gilad, arrives in Cairo today and it is thought that some kind of statement may be forthcoming in the next couple of days. In the meanwhile missiles continue to reign down on the Western Negev region, more than 20 rockets were fired into the area with a house in Sderot receiving a direct hit. For the people here peace cannot come quickly enough, but not if it means the 8 eight years of terror continues. Residents here are convinced that efforts must continue to ensure that Hamas is unable bring weaponry into Gaza, ending their ability to fire missiles into their homes and schools.
“It needs to be remembered that during the last so-called cease-fire more than 400 rockets hit Israel, and Hamas had used their “quiet” time to busily extend the range of their weaponry. Today the people of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beer Sheva are feeling the effects of the last cease-fire.” Asserted Bedein.