Leaders of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, in a meeting with Russian political leadership this weekend, agreed to extend their commitment to a ceasefire with Israel, that they have held to since last February, for another year, but demanded that Israel hold to their end of the bargain.
Since February 2005, human rights groups have documented over 20,000 acts of Israeli aggression against Palestinians in violation of last February’s Sharm al-Sheikh agreement, including killing 180 Palestinians. In contrast, the Hamas movement has chalked up only one violation, the kidnapping and murder of an Israeli settler.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday announced that the Hamas party agreed to a year-long ceasefire with Israel, with the condition that Israel also commit to a ceasefire.
"Hamas confirmed its willingness not to withdraw from the March 2005 inter-Palestinian agreement on a cease-fire on the understanding that Israel will also refrain from use of force," a Foreign Ministry statement said.
An Israeli commitment to stop their use of force in the Palestinian territories of West Bank and Gaza seems unlikely at this time, given the ongoing attacks on Palestinian towns and villages by the Israeli military that killed 35 Palestinians in February alone, along with a statement Friday by Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz that he would give the Israeli military ‘free reign’ to impose an ‘iron fist’ on the Palestinians.
Given also that there is currently no enforcement mechanism by which the international community can enforce its edicts and rulings against the multiple, documented Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians, it seems extremely unlikely that a "ceasefire" will be adhered to by the Israeli side.
The Hamas leadership in Moscow, including the exiled political leader of the movement, Khaled Mashal, expressed hope that Israeli leaders might be willing to overlook past differences and take some steps toward peace.
Meshal said Friday that Israel must withdraw from territories occupied in 1967 and allow return of Palestinian refugees if it wants peace.
Meshal said that if Israel takes these steps, "our movement will have taken a big step toward peace."