After nearly a week of violence between Israel and Hamas, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian officials announced this morning that a ceasefire agreement has been reached. It is unclear how permanent the ceasefire will be. Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu late Tuesday and with Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi today to help negotiate a truce in the region.
The likelihood of a peace agreement was jeopardized earlier today after multiple Palestinian militant factions took responsibility for a bus bombing in Tel Aviv that wounded at least 21 Israelis. Jerusalem has also been the target of Palestinian rocket fire at least twice in the past week and tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers moved to the Gaza border in case of a decision to invade.
The ceasefire agreement reportedly requires Israel to halt all military activity against the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip and for Palestinian militants to cease rocket attacks into Israel. After 24 hours of quiet, the border crossings between Gaza and Israel are to be opened to allow for movement of goods and people. Egypt will act as guarantor of the deal, according to sources. The death toll from the week-long conflict has mounted to more than 130 Palestinians and five Israelis.
What responsibility does the new Egyptian government have in terms of maintaining peace in the volatile region? What can other forces including the United Nations and the United States do to end hostility and encourage stability in the Gaza Strip?
Steven A. Cook, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; Author of “The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square” (Oxford)
Bradley Burston, columnist, Haaretz newspaper
Christa Case Bryant, staff writer, Christian Science Monitor, currently in Jerusalem