False hope of a quick end to the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip which has now killed nearly 700 Palestinians came early this morning, when the office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared that both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority had accepted the Egypt-proposed deal for a permanent ceasefire.
France quietly retracted the claim hours later, but not before the international media reported that the long-sought ceasefire was virtually a done deal. Israel denied it had accepted anything, Hamas likewise insisted it was unwilling to consider any ceasefire so long as the Israeli occupation continues, and basically everyone is confused as to what the present status of the deal is.
It doesn’t appear nearly as far along as anyone had hoped. While Israel intends to send a top Defense Ministry official to Cairo for talks tomorrow, such talks could take days. Hamas officials are also reportedly involved in the talks, in spite of their claims to be averse to a truce. The Palestinian Authority seems all for it, but as they have virtually no presence in the Gaza Strip their imprimatur is at best a nice aside.
Ultimately, Israel says it supports the deal in principle, but not necessarily in practice. With hundreds of Gaza civilians being killed in practice by the ongoing attacks, an agreement merely in principle is unlikely to satisfy anyone.