Ceasefire Negotiations on the Brink

YERUSHALAYIM -
israel gaza
Israeli soldiers and artillery at a staging area in southern Israel, near the border with Gaza, Wednesday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Negotiations for a ceasefire being held in Cairo were said to be on the brink of success Wednesday night, even while rocket launchings against southern Israel continued.

The fighting could be over “tonight,” an Israel official was quoted by Ynet as saying.

But, he said, “everything is happening at once … this could end tonight, or tomorrow but can also slide into further escalations.”

Islamic Jihad leader Ziad a-Nahala, in Cairo for the negotiations, said they have offered Israel a ceasefire, on conditions:

“We demand the end of assassinations in Gaza and the West Bank, the cessation of shootings at the protesters in the return marches and the return to pre-escalation norms,” a-Nahala said.

Egyptian intelligence officials have been mediating between Israel and Islamic Jihad, and have been joined in Cairo by U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov.

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker, who is in Yerushalayim on a visit, said that “the Islamic Jihad has nothing to lose, so it hard to negotiate or have a mediation. They just lost their senior official, very hard to stomach,” The Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying.

On a more upbeat note, Schenker observed that Hamas’ absence from the fighting “suggests that Hamas does not want to fight with Israel right now, nor does Israel want to fight with Hamas right now. That is positive.”