Top Israeli defense officials say that the military has accomplished all that it possibly could in nearly three weeks of attacks on the Gaza Strip, and they support the idea of ending the operations before the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama next week.
Foreign Minister and leader of the ruling Kadima Party Tzipi Livni expressed roughly the same sentiment yesterday, saying she thought the attacks should end without any formal agreement. Defense Minister Ehud Barak is openly endorsing the idea of stopping the attacks for a week while ceasefire negotiations continue to allow humanitarian aid into the strip.
Al-Arabiya is also reporting today that Hamas plans to accept the latest draft of the Egypt-brokered ceasefire agreement, so long as Israel withdraws its forces from the Gaza Strip. They also have scheduled a press conference for later in the day to formalize their position on the deal.
All this seems to be a recipe for ending the conflict, which has now claimed roughly 1,000 lives and caused enormous humanitarian strife in the Gaza Strip. The only apparent obstacle to peace now is Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who last night was reported to be deliberately delaying a cabinet meeting to prevent any talk of a ceasefire and whose aides lashed out at Barak’s “lack of responsibility” in calling for a ceasefire, claiming he was aiding Hamas in doing so. Though wildly unpopular in Israel and having lost control of his own party, Olmert seems intent on keeping the war going as long as he possibly can.