I'll be brief.
Prime Minster Ehud Olmert on Saturday night announced that Israel's government has voted in favor of a unilateral cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, and will halt its fire from 2 A.M.
Speaking from Tel Aviv, Olmert said that if Hamas ended its rocket fire on Israel, the Israel Defense Forces would leave the Gaza Strip. He said that Hamas had underestimated Israel's decisiveness, and was still not fully aware of how badly it had been damaged.
The Israeli government is claiming that its goal of wiping out, or at least substantially weakening, Hamas leadership has been met. Is this a "Mission Accomplished" moment? Perhaps Hamas has been weakened; perhaps it has been emboldened. Only time will tell. With so much destruction and suffering and loss, it is hard to see this as a victory for anyone.
Furthermore, as Hamas rejected the ceasefire proposed by Israel and is vowing to continue fighting until the IDF leaves Gaza, and the Israeli government is refusing to leave Gaza until Hamas stops fighting, this seems like a rather tenuous ceasefire. Who knows how long it will last?
I think we are all rather raw from discussing this subject for the past three weeks. I know I am. So I will not give my opinions here on this situation, or the larger issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, other than to say too many people have suffered, too many people have died, and too many people live -- and will no doubt continue to live -- in constant terror. I think both sides bear responsibility for being unable to find a way to provide peace and security for their citizens. The past should not matter. What should matter is how they can find a way to live together and to give their children hope, instead of fear, for their future.