Updated 1/16/09 3:29 PM EST
As the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip enters its 21st day, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev suggests a deal to end the attacks which have killed over 1,000 Gazans could be in the offing.
“I hope we are entering the end game and that our goal of sustained and durable quiet in the south is about to be attained,” Indeed, one official told the Associated Press that the cabinet would vote tomorrow on halting the military’s attacks, though a halt to the attacks doesn’t mean a withdrawal of the invasion forces.
Rather, the truce would be a “phased process” in which Israel would stop its attacks but remain in the Gaza Strip until a formal peace accord was reached. This would make resuming their attacks easier if they decide to at a later date.
Both Israel and Hamas have made significant demands of any ceasefire proposal, with Israel demanding that the deal would be permanent and contain international guarantees that the rival Hamas government can never rearm. Hamas has demanded that the border crossings reopen and Israel end its military presence in the strip.
There seems to be a split in both the Hamas and Israeli government about whether or not to accept the deal. Syria-based Hamas leader Mashaal has spoken out against a deal, while officials inside the warzone have supported the idea for weeks. Likewise, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seems determined to keep the war going, whereas indications are if the decision was up to Ehud Barak or Tzipi Livni, the invasion would have ended days ago.