Body of an ‘Israeli sympathizer’ dragged through the streets of Gaza (sfgate.com)
After a brutal weeklong conflict, Hamas and Israeli officials engaged in talks today (Tuesday 11/20/12) with Egyptian officials acting as intermediaries. A cease-fire has yet to be finalized, and the threat of an Israeli ground invasion still looms, but a senior Hamas official said that a truce agreement is within reach, and most likely would transpire by the end of tonight. President Obama dispatched Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to the Middle East today to ask for an immediate cease-fire.
The major goal of intervening diplomacy here is to stop this conflict before even more escalation. A ground invasion could cause intensification that would put the entire region at risk. Today, Clinton will meet first with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, then with senior officials of the Palestinian government in the West Bank, and then she will head to Cairo to meet with Egyptian leaders. Clinton will not be meeting with any Hamas leaders, for we consider them a terrorist organization. Obama blames Hamas for the latest eruption of violence, and feels that Israel had the right to defend itself after Hamas killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide and other attacks.
On the other side of the spectrum, the families of victims of the Israeli airstrikes have a different message for the international community. “We want to tell the world which is supporting the state of Israel, what this state is doing. They are supporting a state that kills children… We want to send a message to the U.N. and the West: Enough of supporting Zionists, who are killing children.”
Three Israelis have also been killed in this conflict, and more than 1,000 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza, including three that struck Israeli schools that had fortunately been emptied as a precaution.
Along with Clinton, the UN chief, Germany’s foreign minister, Turkey’s foreign minister, and a delegation of Arab League foreign ministers were to visit with the major officials involved in the conflict today. Israel demands that all rocket fire from Gaza be halted and that there be no more smuggling of weapons into Gaza through tunnels under the border with Egypt. Hamas wants Israel to halt all attacks on Gaza and lift restriction on trade and movement in and out of the territory.
All of this diplomatic intervention is occurring today. The UN and the United States have representatives in the Middle East trying to put an end to this conflict before it gets even worse. Based on the stubborn positions taken by the two sides here, do you think a cease-fire agreement will be reached this week? Do you support the U.S. diplomatic efforts? How much of an impact do you think Clinton can have on negotiations?