* On Sunday 01/18/2009, Hamas and its affiliated organizations accepted a cease fire with Israel in a special broadcast in the Syrian official TV channel. Mousa Abu Marzook, who spoke on behalf of Hamas, said the cease fire is for one week and is conditioned that Israel will, indeed, pull out of Gaza Strip within this week. The enouncement enabled the Hamas later to claim the Israel withdrawal came under his ultimatum and Hamas is the victorious in the conflict. The special broadcast came after a phone call from UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to the Syrian President Bashar Assad in which he asked the Syrian President to ensure the cease fire. The very phone call is a decisive proof that Ban Ki-Moon knows that Hamas is controlled and affiliated to Damascus and therefore that Damascus is indirectly responsible for the constant daily shelling of Israeli villages around Gaza Strip for years.    

* After participating in a summit with the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheikh, the leaders of Germany, UK, France, Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic, who is the chairman of the European Union, came to Jerusalem to a dinner and a press conference with the Israeli PM Ehud Ulmert. All pledged themselves and their countries, as they did earlier in the day in Egypt, to 4 issues: 

A. To assist in the reconstruction of Gaza Strip.

B. To commit themselves to the Security of Israel within internationally recognized borders.

C. To fight the weapon smuggling, aimed to destroy Israel, from Iran and Syria to Gaza Strip in order to stabilize the Middle East.

D. To proceed with the peace process with the Palestinians through the Leadership of Fatah and President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank of the Palestinian Authority.  

In their speeches the European leaders reflected the deep understanding that Iran is, nowadays, the most dangerous country in the region, aimed to the annihilation of Israel and to block any prospect of peace. Iran is seeking nuclear weapon and hegemony over the Middle East which the European countries can not accept.

To sum it up, The European countries referred to the Gaza crisis not just as a conflict between Israel and Hamas but in a much larger context of a conflict between Europe, moderate Arab countries and Israel with Iran and the outcome of the conflict will, eventually, determine if there is a chance for peace in the Middle East or the region is facing a long period of instability. For Israel that European unified position and understanding is a major achievement.     


***  See daily reports – Cast-Lead Diary  ***    


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