It starts: Obama 'urging' Netanyahu not to allow ground invasionnot to invade Gaza.
Though President Obama uttered immediate and firm public and private assurances that Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks emanating from Gaza, administration officials have been privately urging Israeli officials not to extend the conflict, a move that many American officials believe could benefit Hamas.
A protracted escalation, the officials fear, could damage Israel’s already fragile relationships with Egypt and Jordan at a time when both of those governments have been coming under pressure from their own populations....A senior Obama administration official said the American message to Egypt had been “that we cannot have this conflict drag on, as it just risks greater threats to civilians.”
If Israel goes back into Gaza, both Egypt and Jordan — the only two Arab countries with peace treaties with Israel — would come under pressure from their people to break off ties, a move that would undoubtedly strengthen Hamas.
But to the relief of Obama administration officials, Mr. Morsi so far has not hinted at such a move, which would threaten the 1979 Camp David peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, a linchpin for stability in the region in Washington’s view. And administration officials say Mr. Morsi has indicated that he will try to calm the situation in Gaza before it worsens.
Whether that effort extends to lobbying for Hamas to crack down on jihadist groups that have been launching attacks on Israel, as Israel would like to see Mr. Morsi do, is not clear. But at the moment, the relative quiet out of Cairo is being viewed in Washington as a positive first step.
“If Morsi wanted to use this for populist reasons, he’d be adopting a different posture,” said Martin S. Indyk, the former American ambassador to Israel and the author of “Bending History: Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy.”
“If he wanted to take apart the peace treaty, this is his opportunity,” Mr. Indyk said. “The fact that he’s not and is instead apparently working with President Obama to calm the situation is important.”
But Mr. Morsi’s cooperation can only be counted on, another administration official said, so far as Israel does not invade Gaza, with the attendant civilian casualties. A ground war, the official said, “could mean all bets are off.”
But JPost is reporting that a 'cease fire' may be in the offing.Though Iran would welcome the opportunity to demonstrate the spectrum of its militant proxy strength, especially after supplying Hamas with the long-range Fajr-5 rockets that have been targeting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Hezbollah will likely be extremely cautious in deciding whether to participate in this war. The group's fate is linked to that of the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad; should Syria fracture along sectarian lines, Lebanon is likely to descend into civil war, and Hezbollah will have to conserve its strength and resources for a battle at home against its sectarian rivals. Indeed, Hezbollah has already been preparing for such a scenario by seizing control of villages along the Orontes River Basin in order to maintain connectivity with Syria's Alawite community.At the same time, if Hamas is able to bog down Israeli ground forces by drawing them into a war of attrition in densely populated Gaza City, Hezbollah may see a political opportunity to burnish its credentials as the region's leading "resistance" movement. In this case, Hezbollah would likely monitor the situation until it could be assured that Israeli forces are sufficiently constrained on the Gaza front before it begins attacks on the northern front. Hezbollah is not looking for a major confrontation with Israel, and the tens of thousands of additional Israeli reservists called up compared to Operation Cast Lead suggest that Israel is already preparing for a two-front contingency. If Hezbollah does decide to participate in the war, it would be carefully timed to drive an already embattled Israel toward a cease-fire so that Hezbollah could claim a largely symbolic victory at relatively little cost.
With Hezbollah uncertain how the Israeli-Hamas battle will play out, the group appears to be taking a cautious approach. Stratfor has received indication that Hezbollah has prevented radical Palestinian groups in southern Lebanese refugee camps from firing rockets into northern Israel. In addition to an increase in the number of patrols by the Lebanese army and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, Hezbollah has been deploying numerous operatives in plainclothes along the border to monitor the situation. Hezbollah has also installed cameras around the Ain al Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon to monitor traffic from the camp to its outside environs. Whereas Hezbollah completely controls movement into and out of Palestinian refugee camps in the deep south, Ain al Hilweh lies completely within a Sunni neighborhood. For this reason, Hezbollah has rented a number of apartments around the camp, especially in al Ta'mir area, to keep a close watch there.
For now, Hezbollah appears intent on not allowing the battle in Gaza to spill into southern Lebanon. It remains to be seen whether that calculus would shift should Hamas succeed in wearing down Israeli ground forces.
Israel is currently negotiating a cease-fire with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to take effect later in the night, sources told Channel 2 on Saturday night.
Egyptian President Mohamad Morsi gave credence to the report, saying there are "some indications" of a cease-fire in Gaza, but that there were not yet any guarantees.
The agreement is backed by Turkey, Qatar, Egypt and the United States, according to Channel 2.
For the first time since the current round of violence with the Gaza Strip began on Wednesday, there were signs on Saturday that Hamas was willing to accept a cease-fire with Israel.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who is in Cairo, held talks on Saturday with Mohamed Shehata, head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, on the possibility of achieving a cease-fire, sources close to Hamas said.
The sources said that the Hamas leadership has received a number of proposals for a cease-fire from different international parties, including EU countries.
Mashaal, according to the sources, set his movement’s conditions for a cease-fire.Lift the blockade? You mean this blockade?
These include an Israeli pledge to stop “all forms of aggression, including assassinations, and lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip.”
Let's go to the videotape.
Make sure to note the pile of jacuzzis between the 0:18 and 0:24 marks.
The bottom line is that the Prime Minister's office denies that it sent someone to Cairo to negotiate. I'd bet on that ground invasion happening. It's time.