Israel and Hamas agree cease-fire

Update: The cease-fire brokered by Egypt came into force at 21:00 tonight. Netanyahu: I know there are those who expected more, but this is the right thing for the country at this time.

Operation Pillar of Cloud has ended without a written agreement between Israel and Hamas, but with reciprocal understandings between the sides on stopping the firing. This is after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he was "prepared to give an opportunity" to the efforts of all the mediators, including the US, to restore stability and quiet to the region.

The cease-fire came into force at 21:00 tonight, Israel time: a few hours after a terrorist attack on a bus in Tel Aviv, Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire brokered by Egypt. The prime minister's bureau said this evening that "Netanyahu spoke a short time ago with US President Barack Obama and accepted his recommendation to give a chance to Egypt's cease-fire proposal, and thus provide an opportunity to stabilize the situation and calm things down before there was a need to bring to bear greater force. The prime minister expressed his appreciation to the US president for his support of Israel throughout the operation and his contribution to the Iron Dome system. Netanyahu again stressed that Israel would take all necessary steps to protect its citizens."

At a press conference this evening, Netanyahu said, "The terrorist organizations assumed we would refrain from attacking; they were wrong. We destroyed thousands of rockets and Hamas control installations, with backing from the leading figures in the international community." Netanyahu thanked US President Obama for his "unreserved support" for Israel, and also thanked US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "I know there are those who expected more, and it is possible that it may be required, but at this time the right thing for the country is to achieve a lasting cease-fire."

Minister of Defense Ehud Barak said, "We expect the cease-fire to be honored. We managed to achieve strengthening of our deterrence, an end to the rocket fire, and damage to the terrorist organizations, restriction of the damage to our home front, maximum damage to the terrorist organizations, and minimum harm to non-combatants. Our aims have been achieved in full."

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman thanked the Egyptian government for the part it had played in bringing about the cease-fire.

The leader of the opposition, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz, said that the aims of the Israeli operation had not been achieved, and that the next round of fighting was only a matter of time. Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich said that the cease-fire should be given a chance but that the test would be the test of actions and results.

There are reports of rocket fire on southern towns in Israel after the cease-fire came into effect

According to Israeli sources, Israel has not agreed to lift the embargo on the Gaza Strip. Egyptian sources however say that Israel has agreed to lift the embargo, and to halt the targeted killings in the Gaza Strip.

The cease-fire was reached after disagreements in the forums of three and nine ministers, with Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman surprising with his moderate stance in the forum of three (Liberman, Netanyahu, and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak) in favor of a cease-fire and against introducing ground forces and expanding the operation. Barak apparently counseled that it would not be appropriate to enter into the cease-fire arrangement in its current format.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a press conference in Cairo that the US would work with its partners to consolidate the cease-fire and improve living conditions for the residents of the Gaza Strip and security for the people of Israel. She added that each side needed to make progress towards a general peace.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 21, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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