Cease fire hopes fade as Israel prepares for Gaza ground assault
Hillary Clinton is in Cairo meeting with Egytpian President Morsi about how to revive the stalled truce talks that seemed so tantalizingly close to coming to fruition yesterday.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi on Wednesday in Cairo to discuss a possible truce in Gaza, Egypt's official news agency reported.
Clinton travelled from Israel where she had met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Tuesday night she pledged to work for a truce "in the days ahead".
Negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, mediated by Egypt, have dragged on and there has been no let up in the violence.
The talks were attended by Egypt's Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr and the U.S. ambassador, the news agency reported.
Meanwhile, a terrorist attack on a bus in Tel Aviv that left at least 10 hurt my tip the scales and send the IDF into Gaza:
Hopes had been high that a ceasefire was imminent -- Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi even said flatly that violence would come to an end yesterday. The attack could undo that optimism, and pave the way for a far more bloody conflict.
However, the fact that there were no fatalities in the attack has led some to hope that it will not completely scuttle the ongoing negotiations in Cairo. "Look, nobody was killed," said Yossi Alpher, the former director of Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. "If [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] is looking for an excuse for a ground invasion, which I don't think he is, that could be an excuse for a ground invasion - but otherwise, I would like to believe that it won't tilt the balance in that way."
The attack was the first bus bombing in Tel Aviv since 2006, breaking the calm that the city had enjoyed in recent years. Early reports suggest that a man threw the bomb on the bus and then ran away; police are believed to have apprehended a man involved in the attack.
Meanwhile, negotiations continue apace in Cairo. Details of their progress are so far fairly sketchy - which actually may be a good sign, as diplomats tend to leak information to journalists when talks are stalled. While the Israelis will no doubt demand that that Hamas put an end to rocket attacks from Gaza as a result of a ceasefire, Hamas is likely to require that Israel also ease its economic blockade of the Strip.
That's a demand that Alpher, at least, thinks Netanyahu might not reject out of hand. While left-wing Israeli governments would be wary of de-legitimizing the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which rules the West Bank and has been the Palestinians' official interlocutor in peace talks, Bibi's right-wing coalition might not be so concerned.
Netanyahu will probably not embarrass Hilliary Clinton and launch a ground assault while she is practicing shuttle diplomacy across the region. But the Israeli PM will not wait forever and unless Hamas agrees to end the murderous rocket attacks on Israel, Bibi will probably take the plunge.