According to the cease-fire agreement, Israel and all Palestinian militant groups agreed to halt ‘‘all hostilities.’’ For the Palestinians, that means an end to Israeli airstrikes and assassinations of wanted militants. For Israel, it brings a halt to rocket fire and attempts at cross-border incursions from Gaza.
After a 24-hour cooling-off period, the cease-fire calls for ‘‘opening the crossings and facilitating the movement of people and transfer of goods, and refraining from restricting residents’ free movement.’’ That could amount to the biggest easing of Israel’s blockade of Gaza since it shut off the territory from much of the world five years ago. Hamas officials said details on the new border arrangements would have to be negotiated.
If the cease-fire holds, Israel and Egypt will be clear beneficiaries. But Hamas, too, comes out a winner, having long been isolated by Washington’s Arab allies but now embraced by much of the region.
The Western-backed government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in charge of the West Bank, was cut out of the cease-fire equation, and Clinton reminded him during her visit to Ramallah that Washington remains firmly opposed to his plan for U.N. recognition of an independent Palestine.
The Obama administration hopes the end to the immediate crisis could advance a broader Mideast strategy that promotes Israeli-Palestinian peace, reinforces the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and reduces Iran’s influence in Gaza. The calculation is that Morsi’s mediation between Israel and Hamas and elevated standing on the world stage brings with it a responsibility to maintain the cease-fire, forcing him to deliver on Israel’s behalf.
In the U.S. view, maintenance of the truce also means cracking down on Iranian weapons shipments to Gaza. Iran has long used Hamas and other groups as proxy forces against Israel.
The goal of a larger peace treaty that allows for the establishment of an independent Palestine may remain far away, but it would be not be feasible if Hamas continues to launch projectiles at the Jewish state and Arab powers led by Egypt aren’t engaged in the process.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Bradley Klapper and Matthew Lee cover diplomacy and international affairs for The Associated Press.
An AP News Analysis