Israel and the Palestinians have given themselves five days to come up with a comprehensive agreement to end the war in Gaza. While that is a welcome extension on past ceasefires, there is still a dangerously long way to go to bridge their differences.
After agreeing to Egypt’s proposal to extend the halt in hostilities until August 18 — a deal clinched with barely an hour to run on the previous, 72-hour pause — Palestinian and Israeli negotiators left Cairo to consult with their leaders. One Palestinian faction headed for Ramallah, the main city in the West Bank, to meet Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, while some representatives of the Islamist group Hamas flew to Qatar to see Khaled Meshaal, their leader in exile, and others returned to Gaza.
On the ground, there was great uncertainty among both peoples about the latest extension. “It’s very, very difficult not to be at home, enough!” said Michal Admoni, an Israeli who has been living away from her home in kibbutz Kfar Aza on the Gaza border for more than a month.
In other developments, Israel secured supplies of ammunition from the Pentagon last month without the approval of the White House or the State Department, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. Since officials there were caught off guard as they tried to restrain Israel’s campaign in Gaza, the Obama administration has tightened controls on arms shipments to Israel, the newspaper said, quoting US and Israeli officials.