Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Israeli-Palestinian Ceasefire

The formal ceasefire between Israel and Palestine is the culmination of about three weeks of an unofficial ceasefire. Despite the claims of Hamas and another militant group to be not bound by the agreement, everybody is undoubtedly tiring of the violence, and to spark off a new round of bloodshed would be unpopular. Both sides have pledged to end hostilities and have made significant concessions, including, but not necessarily limited to, the release of political prisoners, the handover of up to five West Bank towns, beginning with Jericho, a moratorium on targeted killings against individuals unilaterally determined to be "wanted" by Israel, and a gradual withdrawal of troops.

Sharon made his intentions clear when he addressed the Palestinian people:

"I assure you that we have a genuine intention to respect your rights to live independently and in dignity. I have already said that Israel has no desire to continue to govern over you and control your fate."

The overtures of peace are not without benefit to Israel; Egypt and Jordan are planning on returning ambassadors to Israel following their 2000 diplomatic withdrawal in protest of Israel's perceived excessive use of force.

Mubarak, the key representative who summoned Sharon and Abbas to the summit, expressed hope for further peace in the region, hinting that Syria and Lebanon may also be on the verge of a breakthrough in their talks as well.

President Bush has invited each of the two leaders, Sharon and Abbas, to visit him separately during the spring of this year, in hopes of getting back on track of achieving results in the so-called "Middle East Roadmap".

Certainly a fragile, but promising new beginning.