After the 22-day military offensive against the Gaza strip, Israeli and Hamas negotiators have almost reached agreement on a long-term ceasefire, according to a Hamas spokesman.
Moussa Abu Marzouq said that the Egyptian-brokered truce, which would last for 18 months, should be announced in a few days. The longer-term deal would take the place of a shaky January 18 ceasefire, declared separately by both sides. Egypt has been criticised by the Arab world for not opening its Rafah border crossing with Gaza for normal traffic and for its limited humanitarian efforts. Meanwhile, dozens of Jewish New Yorkers took to the streets outside the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency to protest against Israeli treatment of Palestinians. Organisers of the protest said there were Holocaust survivors amongst the protesters, as well as first time demonstrators. Israeli Prime minister Ehud Olmert visited Tzipi Livni as final results of the country’s elections showed that her Kadima party won the contest by a single seat over Benjamin Netanayu’s Likud. As confusion over the next government continues in Israel, some analysts say the ceasefire announcement could help centrist Livni form a coalition rather than right-wing Netanayu.