Can Gaza ceasefire hold?

June 19, 2008

The Gaza Strip and the Israeli towns and farms surrounding the Palestinian enclave spent a quiet morning on Thursday after a ceasefire deal came into force after dawn between the Jewish state and the  Hamas Islamists who rule Gaza’s 1.5 million people. The absence of mortars and improvised rockets falling on the Israeli side of the border and of Israeli air strikes and ground incursions on the other were welcomed by ordinary people. For Palestinians in Gaza, the biggest hope is an increase in supplies which Israel has kept under tight blockade since Hamas seized control a year ago.
Palestinian police play footballBoth sides, as well as Egypt which mediated the deal over several months and the international powers, have plenty of reasons to see the truce work . The UN even told Reuters it could help pave the way for UN peacekeepers in Gaza.  But equally there are plenty on all sides who are already saying it is as doomed as previous “calms” between Israel and Hamas, which has been shunned by Western powers for its refusal to give up violent tactics such as suicide bombings and Gaza rocket salvos. Not least among the apparent pessimists has been Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has warned the peace may be short-lived. Olmert has plenty of critics who would happily use that adjective of his own career – the prime minister has promised to resign if he is indicted in a corruption investigation that has already seen an American businessman testify to handing Olmert large sums of cash stuffed in envelopes. The premier has survived a series of such scandals in his two and a half years in power and he again denies all wrongdoing. However, his enemies, including within his own coalition government, are circling and could vote next week to dissolve parliament and start the process of triggering an early election .Olmert gestures in Knesset

So how is Olmert fighting back? By making himself seem indispensable to Israelis as a peacemaker on all fronts, some say. As well as U.S.-sponsored talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, begun last November,  he has lately revealed Turkish-mediated talks with Syria, a desire to open negotiations with Lebanon and progress in talks with Hezbollah on exchanging prisoners. Not to mention today’s truce with Hamas. So can Olmert stave off the public prosecutor and keep the peace?


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Well the is no peace without an Independent State of Palestine. What these people signed is not a peace deal. It’s a deal to take a break from fighting. When they feel they are ready to fight again the whole thing will start once more. Peace will be only and only when there is an Independent state of Palestine. Olmert or no Olmert this is how it is going to be. Olmert is not the nucleus of the peace that is to be. Establishing an Indepenedent State of Palestine will be the peace nucleus. Period. People can say what they want to say and write what they want to write but this is how it is and how it’s going to be. Indepent state of Palestine= Everlasting peace. No peace will be greater or smaller than this one.

Posted by Pule Nong | Report as abusive

Agreed, & it needs to be contiguous and not broken into a bunch of small areas separated by parts of Israel.

As a side, I sure hope Israel has the sense not to bomb Iran but if they do I sure hope we in the U.S. have the sense not to back them further. We keep backing their aggression and we’ll have the whole world gunning for us.

Posted by Ed Miller | Report as abusive

For some years now, Mr. & Mrs. Reader, I’ve been thinking about this little tiny pocket of SW Asia, i.e., the area surrounded by water on the west, and clockwise, by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt from north to east to south.

For what it’s worth, here is what I think…not so much about the latest ceasefire…but about the big picture in this part of the world.

My first point is that Arabs were not always Muslims. However, Jews have always been what they are. Canaanites came first, Hebrews second, and all others after that based on recorded history and archeology.

Insofar as modern times are concerned, the Jews will never give land back to the Arabs that they (the Jews) took by force or otherwise…unless the U.S. stops supporting the Jews unconditionally. Why U.S. congresses and U.S. presidents don’t draw the line somewhere, I don’t know. More and more it appears to me that the reason a diplomatic line is not drawn is a religious one.

Mixing religion and diplomacy is bad politics though.

The volatile mix of religion and politics means that there will never be an impetus for settlement among the parties that have been killing and maiming each other (including women and children) in these modern times, the latter being at least since the Ottoman Turk empire ceased to exist at the conclusion of World War I in 1917.

The Jews will never accept that the Arabs are entitled to any land, even though they (the Arabs) existed in this part of the world for almost 2,000 years before the end of World War II in 1945. That’s the long-term Jewish strategy, and that’s the way it is…period.

The Arabs will never accept that Jews are entitled to land that they (the Jews) took by force or otherwise. Nor will the Arabs ever accept that the foundation for the first phase of this use of force (in 1948) was the U.N. partition of 1947, where Jews were somehow awarded political boundaries encompassing a land area far out of proportion to their population at that time. That’s the long-term Arab strategy, and that’s the way it is…period.

There will never be a state of Palestine unless the last man standing is an Arab.

Owing to the fact that the Jews seem to have managed earthly immortality, the last two men standing will more than likely be a Jew AND an Arab.

So, where will the Jews and Arabs have gotten by that time, say a millennium from now?

Exactly nowhere.

And what of the United States that unconditionally supports the Jews, but conditionally supports the Arabs? Will it still be primarily a nation of Christians in a millennium?

Who knows?

In the meantime, the killing and maiming will continue unabated.

That’s the way I see it.

OK Jack

Posted by OK Jack | Report as abusive

In respone to ‘Jack’. Everyone has an opinion. I differ with yours greatly. Most of your “logical” (?) thinking makes absolutely no sense to me and many of your statements are either wrong or grossly misinformed. But, what is particuarly hurtful are the negative comments & unfair assumptions you make about the Jewish people. Early on in your comments, you make it a point to note the “smallness” of the landmass of Israel. It is a tiny country. And, yet you later charge that the Israeli’s had a portion of land which was far greater them their numbers, when Israel was initially declared a state! How do you draw these conclusions? What is the basis for measuring a size of a nation proportional to its population?? (Are you even aware of the number of on-going Jewish people who have always lived in Israel? Do you know how many fled Germany and other parts of Europe seeking asylum in Israel after most of their families were murdured – men, women & children – during the horrors of the Nazi regime? And, if you’re going to compare land & populations, why not compare the “immense” size of land masses which are nationally Arabic to tiny Israel(smaller than New Jersey). But, according to you, the Jewish people are not even entitled to that! You also state the land was taken forceably by the Jewish people. This is not only a total falsehood, but points to your ignorance of history and the truth. Most of the land was legally purchased from the Arabic people. And, a United Nations mandate created the state of Israel in 1948, in response to the genocide and killing of 6 million Jews by the Nazi campaign of eradication. If this had happened to any other people of the world, you can bet most of the world populace would not continue to condemn the populace who experienced such a horror & genocide. Yet, “OKJACK”, you, as well as many others (not just those within the Arab world) continue to attack, ridicule, and debase the Jewish people of the world. I don’t know if this makes you feel more secure about yourself. But, you’re certainly NOT an OK JACK! And, your comments continue to enforce the horrible bigotry and ethnic and racial tensions of the globe. Eventually, this will com back to haunt you & your people (whomever they may be)!

Posted by SJIS | Report as abusive

Additionally, the Jewish people have already given back a large portion of land to the Arabs; for example, the Sinai Peninsula, The Gaza Strip (most recently), etc. This is done in a hope for peace. The Israelis, particuarly the prime minister, are very interested in brokering and holding a peace deal. And, the Israelis definitely support a Palestinian state, in the hope that this would bring a lasting peace. But, much that is heard from the other side is a call for the destruction of the Jewish State. Why shouldn’t the U.S. support Israel, it’s the only real friend the U.S. has in the Middle East.

Posted by SJIS | Report as abusive

I like these articles, Alastair.

Take best care of yourself!

(now teaching in China)

Posted by Arthur Borges | Report as abusive