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According to Haaretz, Hamas wants to cut its losses and get out of the current war. Reportedly unhappy with Hezbollah's amplification of Israeli rage, local Hamas leadership has agreed in principle to return Gilad Shalit now for consideration of future releases of Palestinian prisoners, and will agree to a mutual cease-fire to seal the deal:
Senior Fatah sources in Gaza said on Saturday Hamas is ready to accept a deal that involves freeing abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, a joint cease-fire and an end to IDF actions in the Gaza Strip.
What is not clear is whether Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader in Damascus, will sanction the Egyptian-brokered deal.
The initiative, proposed by Egypt and discussed by Palestinian leaders in Gaza in the last few days, consists of freeing Gilad Shalit, a joint cease-fire and the cessation of the IDF's assassinations in the Gaza Strip and freeing Palestinian prisoners later on.
The deal also includes understandings to set up a national unity government.
This expands on the reporting from yesterday, which only discussed a unilateral cease-fire. This represents a major concession from Hamas and an acceptance of the Israeli refusal to release prisoners in exchange for hostages. Olmert's military incursion and refusals to negotiate have finally made it clear that Israel has changed its policy in that regard.
It also appears to open a split between worldwide Hamas leadership based in Damascus and Hamas in the territories. Khaled Mashaal wanted no negotiation on the demands set at the beginning by his people; he wanted a lopsided prisoner swap to undermine Olmert. Instead, Olmert called his bluff, and Mashaal's the one who may lose a substantial amount of influence as a result.
Hamas does get one key concession from this deal, but from Fatah, not Israel. Ismail Haniyeh has tried to get Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas to join a unity government in order to allow for better foreign relations. Most Western countries refuse to send aid to Hamas, and the Palestinian economy had collapsed even before the Gaza incursion. Haniyeh got Abbas to agree to the new government, and that could mean a restoration of aid from Europe and possibly the US.
If this plays out as reported, Olmert will have won one war of nerves. He will then be able to concentrate forces on Hezbollah currently used in Gaza and have more leverage to win the other war as well. (via TMV)Sphere It View blog reactions
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