Israel Walks Out of Peace Talks

New reports from Egypt are saying “Israel walks out on peace talks” with Gaza leaders after a Hamas rocket attack landed near Tel Aviv. Hopes of brokering an end to the current month-long war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza seem dashed with this latest announcement. Israel conducted the walk out after Hamas’ military arm claimed responsibility for the rocket, which landed in an open area and caused no casualties.

At least three other rockets were also reported, at least one of which landed near Beersheba while the other two were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system. Israel responded by targeting areas of the Gaza Strip, an Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spokesman told The Globe and Mail. Calling the rocket attacks a “grave and direct violation of the ceasefire.” Netanyahu is said to have directly ordered the Israeli delegation in Egypt to walk out of the peace talks.

At least 25 Israeli strikes were witnessed in response, and Palestinian health officials say a two-year-old girl and a woman were killed. Later, siren warnings in Jerusalem sounded and one rocket was intercepted, but no reports of other attacks have been given.

On orders, the delegates to the peace talks staged their walk out and flew home.

Reportedly, however, talks had not been going well. The New York Daily News reports that the walk out by Israel took place just eight hours before the deadline for the ceasefire and that little headway had been made during the week-long negotiations. Yesterday’s last-ditch extension of the ceasefire was taken by most as a sign that the talks may have been improving.

The odd negotiating means was taking place within an Egyptian intelligence agency building where the Israeli and Hamas delegates were in separate rooms, between which Egyptian mediators would shuttle. Several reasons were given for this, not the least of which is Israel’s does not recognize Hamas as a political group, but as a terror group.

So far, IDF ground troops have remained away from Gaza, having been pulled out two weeks ago. Netanyahu said that with Israel walking out, though, “very aggressive action” could come if shooting begins anew.

Now, after Israel walks out of the peace talks that were nearing yet another deadline, and with Hamas clearly breaking the terms of that case fire, hope for a resolution in Palestine may be gone. At least for now. Hamas did not state reasons for their rocket attacks. Israel has not stated whether their walking out of the peace talks is permanent or as a protest either. With the deadline fast approaching, though, it’s not likely that talks will resume under the current cease-fire agreement.

[Image by Jim Hollander, Associated Press]