Israel, Hamas agree to ceasefire in Gaza

It’s in effect as of 2 p.m. ET. Whether it’ll still be in effect when this post publishes at a little after 3, who knows. Alternate headline: “Fat envelopes from Uncle Sam to Muslim Brotherhood to proceed as scheduled.”

Under the ceasefire terms, Israel is to stop all aggression against the Gaza Strip from land, sea and air, including cross-border incursions and targeted killings.

Palestinian factions are to cease all aggression from Gaza towards Israel, including rocket fire and attacks on the border.

Twenty-four hours after the ceasefire takes effect, Israel will also be committed to opening of all border crossings and ease restrictions on movements of people and goods in and out of the enclave.

It’s a return to the status quo for both sides. Israel will continue to maintain the blockade of Gaza and Hamas will continue to say stuff like this about today’s bus bombing:

Later, in an interview on the Hamas TV station al Aqsa, the group’s spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called on Palestinians for more such attacks — even as cease-fire talks were under way.

“We need more of these painful strikes inside the depths of Israel, in all the towns and cities and villages of Israel,” he said.

I understand everyone’s interest in a ceasefire except Hamas’s. Netanyahu didn’t want to invade Gaza if he could avoid it, even after this morning’s ante-upping terrorist bid to force his hand. It’d be too politically risky for him ahead of an election and probably wouldn’t achieve much militarily now that the IAF has already degraded Hamas’s rocket capabilities from the air (temporarily). Obama didn’t want Israel to invade Gaza because he’s focused on Iran and Syria — or so he says — and doesn’t need a new round of Israeli/Palestinian warfare complicating things for him. (His call last Friday leaning on Morsi to broker a truce was reportedly “very tense.” I’ll bet.) Morsi didn’t want Israel to invade Gaza because he really needs those fat envelopes right now and because the longer a ground war dragged on, the more political pressure he’d be under at home to intervene on Hamas’s behalf. And since the Egyptian army is in no rush to square off again with the IDF, that would have left him in a serious bind.

Everyone had an incentive to defuse this bomb before it went off, then — except of course for the bombmaker, Hamas. Seems like they calculated last week that now was a fine time to escalate things with Israel because the Islamist tide of the Arab Spring would ensure more support from regional leaders than they’d received in the past. And if they could bait Israel into a full-scale invasion, with the sort of heavy casualties on both sides that Hamas craves for propaganda reasons, so much the better. That’s what this morning’s bus bombing was all about, I assume. And yet here we are with a ceasefire in effect. Why’d they agree to it? The only explanation I can think of is that Morsi and Egyptian diplomats leaned heavily on them to stand down, but what could Morsi have threatened them with to make them do that? Thanks to the glories of Egyptian democracy, it’s Hamas who has the leverage here, not him. If they accused him of siding with the dreaded Zionist entity against the Palestinian “resistance,” Egyptian Salafists would spend months demagoging him for it. He’d lose popular support at a moment when he’s trying to consolidate power. Egyptians hate Israel and Hamas and Morsi both know it, so why’d Hamas let him back them down? I can only assume that he begged them rather than threatened them, presumably by arguing that the more regional influence he has and the more western money he receives, the more he can do for Hamas long term. They took one for the jihadist team by quitting early this time.

Or so it seems. Needless to say, if they do end up breaking the ceasefire, it’ll show who really steers the good ship Arab Spring. Speaking of which: The guy who used to be the most influential Islamist in the region is spending his days recently screeching about Israeli “ethnic cleansing.” (Which is awfully sweet coming from a denialist of the Armenian genocide.) That’ll goose his popularity in the Middle East, just in case Morsi falters and the west needs a new best friend to keep the “peace.”

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