Egypt Holds Israel/Hamas Talks, Ehud Barak to Retire
Indirect negotiations began today between Israeli and Hamas representatives in Egypt, mediated by Egyptian General Intelligence Service officials. If Israel “commits to a ceasefire, we will respect it,” said Mussa Abu Marzuk of Hamas. The talks will focus on extending the current cease-fire, opening border crossings, and easing Israel’s economic blockade on Gaza. Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said the group hopes to see an opening of all four goods crossing with Israel, three of which have been closed since 2006.
Meanwhile, Ehud Barak, Israel’s Defense Minister, announced his intentions today to leave the political sphere once a new government in formed. “I want to study, to write, to live and have a good time,” Barak said. However, there is speculation that Barak’s resignation is based on poor electoral projections for his Independence Party ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections. ”Mr. Barak could always be trusted to do what he believed was in Israel’s national interest,” opined Con Coughlin. “Barak’s decision to quit politics means the departure of a man who has been at the heart of Israel’s military establishment for more than half a century,” Ian Black said. Amy Teibel cautioned, “His resignation could mean the departure of the most moderating influence on hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.“