Middle East
4:20 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

Israelis Have Mixed Reaction To Cease-Fire

Originally published on Sun November 25, 2012 9:00 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. After more than a week of fighting and at least 145 dead, Israel and Hamas agreed today to a cease fire. The Egyptian government took the lead in negotiating that agreement with help from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

SIEGEL: Clinton held talks today not only in Cairo, but also in Jerusalem and Ramallah. And she said the cease fire was just the start of the process.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: Now, we have to focus on reaching a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security, dignity and legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis alike.

SIEGEL: In a minute, we'll hear reaction from Gaza City, but first, we have NPR's Philip Reeves with Israeli reaction from Jerusalem.

PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: This was the day when peace didn't seem to stand a chance. Israel fired more missiles into Gaza. Gazans fired more rockets into Israel. The death toll rose to above 140, almost all Palestinians. In Israel's biggest city, Tel Aviv, two dozen people were injured by a bus bombing. Fifty miles away, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was working the diplomatic channels. Against this violent backdrop, a cease fire seemed pretty unlikely.

Only hours later, though, an agreement was announced in Cairo.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Speaking foreign language)

REEVES: And soon after, Israelis were watching their Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu live on TV saying it's the right thing to do, though he'll use military force again if necessary. What do Israelis make of this? Reuven Hazan, chair of the political science department at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, thinks they'll have a lot of questions, especially about Hamas' ability to keep their side of the deal.

REUVEN HAZAN: Can it control all of its members? Can it control the other organizations? Will we continue to see shelling into Israel? More than likely for the next day or two. What kind of shelling? How will Israel have to respond to this?

REEVES: Some Israelis, especially in the south, an area regularly hit by rockets from Gaza, want Israel to carry on attacking Hamas. Alon Liel, a former director general of Israel's foreign office, thinks Israelis will generally welcome a cease fire, but says the reaction in the south will depend on whether it holds.

ALON LIEL: But if a cease fire will not hold and collapse in two, three weeks, we will see unbelievable anger in the south.

REEVES: Israelis are also interested in what this means for the neighbors. If the cease fire succeeds this could turn out to be an historic moment for post revolutionary Egypt. Its role as a broker has won it international legitimacy, says Liel.

LIEL: It must have a very positive effect on the image of Egypt and also on the image of the Muslim Brothers.

REEVES: Philip Reeves, NPR News, Jerusalem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.