"This is not a status quo arrangement in my mind at all," says Michael Hanna, a fellow at the New York-based Century Foundation. "Obviously this goes a long way toward normalizing Hamas's political role, and that's a big deal. Depending on how the next steps are implemented, it also goes a long way toward ending the closure policy and the blockade of Gaza."
Victory? Or defeat?
The agreement comes after eight days of fighting that claimed the lives of more than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis. The recent escalation began when Israel assassinated Ahmed Al Jabari, leader of Hamas' armed wing, and began pounding Gaza with airstrikes, prompting a barrage of rocket fire into Israel from Hamas and other militant factions. A bus bombing in Tel Aviv today had caused worry that a ceasefire would not be reached and Israel would launch a ground invasion.
In a press conference in Cairo, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal declared victory for the Palestinians and "great defeat" for Israel. "Our demands were met," he said of the agreement. He also had high praise for Egypt's role in securing the agreement. Tomorrow evening, he asserted, 24 hours from the time of the ceasefire, Israel's blockade on Gaza would be "lifted," and Gazans would be able to live like "any other" people.