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New drive for Israel, Hamas cease-fire deal

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"The cease-fire is important to us and is important to Hamas, because they don't want to have to keep confronting Israel militarily," he adds. "A long cease-fire is an indirect arrangement that saves face for everyone and is in everyone's interest. We can insist that we don't deal with Hamas, but we do deal with Hamas via Egypt. And Egypt likes it because it reinforces their centrality in the Middle East. It's a game everyone likes to play."

Hamas, for its part, faces the prospect of having to deal with a Likud government that could take an even harder line on Gaza than Kadima. On Saturday, Salah al-Bardawil, a senior Hamas official and head of the Cairo truce talks delegation, said that an "honorable agreement" would be reached in the coming days.

Terms of a cease-fire deal

The diplomatic push in Egypt to arrive at a viable plan has indeed electrified the final stretch of elections for Israel's 120-seat parliament, showing the extent to which last month's brutal but inconclusive war continues to hang over decisionmakers and their political futures.

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