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Tara Todras-Whitehill/AP
An Israeli soldier rests on top of a tank at an army base near the Gaza
border in southern Israel. (AP)

After Truce with Hamas, Israel Seeks Peace Talks with Lebanon

June 19, 2008 01:41 PM
by Anne Szustek
A day after agreeing to a six-month ceasefire with Hamas, Israel has reached out to Lebanon for peace talks.

30-Second Summary

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Israel has offered to discuss all issues with Lebanon, including the status of the Israeli-held Chebaa Farms. Lebanon had previously been resistant to peace talks, saying that Israel must first return the piece of land.

The offer came just a day after Israel agreed to a six-month ceasefire with Hamas, which began at 6 a.m. Thursday morning. The laying down of arms marks the beginning of the first stage of a peace deal.

In addition to the end of military skirmishes, Gaza’s borders are to be partially reopened, starting Friday morning, said Palestinian and Egyptian officials. Commercial traffic is to start flowing across the border next week.

The second stage of the deal involves Gaza’s return of detained Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, as well as an agreement to open the Egypt–Gaza border crossing at Rafah.

Egypt has been negotiating a peace agreement between Israel and Hamas for months. Blockades over the border resulted in the stunting of humanitarian missions, blackouts, and an outpouring of Gazans into Egypt looking for staple items.

Despite widespread skepticism of the deal’s viability and, in some quarters, harsh critique of its wisdom, Hamas official Ahmed Yousef told the BBC, “I am confident that everybody will abide by what we’ve agreed. All the groups which went to Cairo gave their okay to the ceasefire.”

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak showed restrained optimism for the deal, stressing, “it is important to make all possible efforts to take advantage of the possibility of calm and to promote the return of peace to Gaza area communities like Ashkelon and Sderot.”

Headline Link: Israel agrees to truce, seeks talks

Background: Recent Hezbollah, Hamas developments

Reactions: ‘Barak: It is too Early to Declare Calm in Gaza’

Key Players: Hamas, Ehud Olmert

Hamas
Ehud Olmert (1945–)

Opinion & Analysis: Long-term viability of the truce

Reference: Gaza Strip

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