Tuesday, January 6, 2009

War is peace

It figures in the crazy world of Middle East diplomacy that an errant shell fired by Israeli forces would be the impetus for ceasefire talks involving Hamas. Months of shelling of Israeli cities by Hamas militants and repeated Israeli incursions into the Gaza Strip did not bring the parties to the negotiating table, even though it would likely have avoided the current Israeli offensive. That's crazy, right? Anyway, the shell that struck the school, killing 42, apparently inspired a new ceasefire proposal from Egypt that was being reportedly being studied by Israel and Hamas, according to the Reuters international news service. The Egyptian plan, which envisions using foreign troops to stop smuggling on the Egypt-Gaza border and open other trade routes blocked by an Israeli blockade, has been backed by the United States and European Union, Reuters said. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking at the United Nations, called for a "sustainable" ceasefire that involves the closure of Gaza's border with Egypt and the reopening of regular trade routes. "We need urgently to conclude a ceasefire that can endure and that can bring real security," Rice told the Security Council. Actually, what is needed is the start of negotiations between Israel and Hamas which, logic suggests, should reach a resolution quickly provided both parties are interested in a settlement. More than 600 Palestinians and 10 Israelis have been killed since Israel's offensive began last month.

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