Israeli ministers are expected to vote and approve a unilateral ceasefire in the Gaza Strip later today but Hamas’s demands are unlikely to be a consideration.
Amid intense diplomacy, Israel’s bombardment of the territory continued but it said it had probably achieved its aims. That includes the recent signing with the US of a deal to halt the smuggling of arms into Gaza. Within hours, Israel’s Foreign Mininister Tzipi Livni made it clear Hamas’s conditions for a truce were not a prerequisite for her government’s decision to stop its military operation. The minister said: “Hamas is a terrorist organisation who takes Gaza Strip as its place not in order to create some hope for the Palestinians but to target Israel. We gave an answer and if after the military operation they target Israel again we can launch another one and another one because this a war on terror and a war on terror doesn’t end with a peace process, shaking hands in the White House,” said Livni. At a meeting in Qatar, the exiled Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal said the group would fight on. Although the UN’s secretary general has called once again for Israel to respect the resolution calling for an immediate stop to the fighting and a troop withdrawal, it appears that Israel will decide its own timetable to end the hostilities and under its own conditions.