Israel, as expected, has announced a ceasefire will go into effect tomorrow, but a pullout from Gaza is contingent on Hamas’ actions. So tomorrow won’t, apparently, end the period of danger. Hoping for Hamas to respect a unilaterally-declared ceasefire is a dicey proposition, but then, it didn’t appear, at least from my vantage, that Hamas was closer to accepting a ceasefire deal negotiated from Cairo (or that Israel was, either).
The ceasefire also depends on an assurance from the U.S. to, in the Wall Street Journal‘s words, "deploy technical, intelligence and military assets across the Middle East to help prevent the smuggling of arms into Gaza." Diplomats are telling the press that the deal will carry over into the Obama administration, and it’s something to watch:
The memorandum doesn’t call for the U.S. to employ its own troops in the Palestinian territories, but rather to provide training to local security forces. U.S. officials compared the scope of the agreement to the Proliferation Security Initiative, a Bush administration program that focuses on interdicting ships and airplanes believed to be trafficking equipment used in developing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
The logistics of this deal bear scrutiny. I don’t have any new information, and so all that follows is speculative, but it sounds like an effort to build Palestinian Authority security-sector capacity. A worthy goal, to be sure, but how will Hamas view a potential U.S. training effort centering on the placement of military forces belonging to the opposition inside Gaza? If this isn’t actually what the ceasefire says, and it’s actually a training mission centering around Egyptian forces — it’s not clear at this point, at least not to me — then disregard the preceding. (How would PA forces get to Gaza to be trained?) What has the U.S. committed to?
I doubt I’ll be in a position to write anything else tonight, but more, definitely, to follow.