Gaza Ceasefire Deal Mysteriously Delayed: Hillary Clinton Flies In, Egypt Keeps Mediating — Pledges to be Honored?

Just after 2:00 p.m. in the Middle East, a salvo of rockets fired into Israel by Hamas felt like the final notes of a painful, damaging symphony.     Diplomatic sources spoke of a deal for a ceasefire being very close — “within hours” — and the United States announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is heading to the region.  She has been with President Obama on his trip to Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, and Cambodia.

Similar to last Friday, one rocket caused warning sirens to go off in Jerusalem — sparking the fear in Jewish neighborhoods that terrorists like to hear about — and the projectile landed, apparently exploded, in an open area near Gush Etzion, a bloc of West Bank settlements south of Jerusalem.

As for the ceasefire deal, here are the outlines described by officials who have been briefed on the progress made in Cairo negotiations:

*Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad will both agree to stop firing rockets into Israel (for at least 2 or 3 years, according to some officials) and will even promise not to smuggle missiles and other weapons into Gaza.

*Israel will stop carrying out targeted killings in Gaza, will ease the blockade that was meant to weaken Hamas rule, and will allow Palestinian farmers to work their lands near the Gaza-Israel border.

*Egypt, Turkey, and Qatar will be the guarantors of the agreement.

Egypt, according to Israeli officials, is promising the United States to prevent the smuggling of weapons — including missiles and explosives from Iran — through Egyptian territory to Gaza.

The Israelis say they are skeptical about the other side fully honoring the agreement.

Israeli politicians and generals will want to tell their people that Israel has “restored its deterrence,” by responding firmly to attacks by Hamas.  Hamas will tell its people that it stood up to the mighty Israelis and gained concessions.

November 20, 2012

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