Gaza ceasefire declared

A ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza was due to go into effect at 2pm Eastern, 9pm local time. With a de facto end to the siege — the Rafah border will now stay open — Hamas can reasonably declare victory.

Following is the verbatim English text of the ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza that was reached on Wednesday with Egyptian mediation. The text was distributed by the Egyptian presidency.

Agreement of Understanding For a Ceasefire in the Gaza Strip

1: (no title given for this section)

A. Israel should stop all hostilities in the Gaza Strip land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals.

B. All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel including rocket attacks and all attacks along the border.

C. Opening the crossings and facilitating the movements of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movements and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire.

D. Other matters as may be requested shall be addressed.

2: Implementation mechanisms:

A. Setting up the zero hour for the ceasefire understanding to enter into effect.

B. Egypt shall receive assurances from each party that the party commits to what was agreed upon.

C. Each party shall commit itself not to perform any acts that would breach this understanding. In case of any observations Egypt as the sponsor of this understanding shall be informed to follow up.

The Guardian reports: The agreed truce was mediated by Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and his spy chief Mohamed Shehata after days of talks and frantic shuttle diplomacy involving regional leaders, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and Clinton.

Clinton had been engaged in talks with Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before flying to Cairo to meet Morsi.

President Obama also intervened during a tour of Asia to call both Israel and Morsi to encourage them to find a solution.

After the announcement Obama called the Israeli PM to commend him for agreeing to the Egyptian proposal, and to promise to seek funding for a joint missile defence programme.

The agreement appeared to consist of nothing more than a simple truce and failed to address other security issues, let alone the longer-term question of reviving a long-moribund peace process.

However, an Israeli government source said that following the ceasefire agreement, an “ongoing dialogue will start within 24 hours covering underlying issues of concern to both parties”.

They include the further relaxation of border restrictions and targeted assassinations.

On borders, he said: “These restrictions were imposed in the framework of hostilities.” In the absence of hostilities, they may no longer be necessary.

Targeted assassinations, he added, were “an irrelevant question”. “If they are not attacking us, we don’t need to shoot them.”

Two other issues to be discussed in further talks were the re-arming of militant groups and the Israeli-imposed buffer zone inside the Gaza border. “The buffer zone was only introduced in the framework of hostilities,” the source said.

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