William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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MIDEAST CEASEFIRE CONTINUES TO HOLD –AT 11:17 A.M. ET:  But there is a recognition that it is only a patchwork ceasefire, not a peace agreement.  It can unravel, and we think Congress should ask some questions, even if behind closed doors, on what commitments the United States may have made.  From WaPo:

TEL AVIV — Israel and the Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip made dueling victory claims Wednesday night after an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire ended a blistering week-long crackdown on militants in the Palestinian enclave.

The deal averted a ground war that Israel had threatened, but it leaves the crux of the conflict unresolved, with neither side winning major concessions. The agreement restricts Israel from deploying ground troops or targeting militant leaders in Gaza, while Palestinian factions there are commanded to cease rocket attacks on Israel.

Although some details remained to be worked out, the terms addressed the most combustible elements in a dangerous cycle that had quickly escalated into the most serious clash since 2009 between Israel and Hamas, the militant Islamist group in Gaza.

After seven days in which hundreds of Palestinian rockets were fired into southern Israel and hundreds of Israeli airstrikes targeted Gaza, the United States and Egypt played key mediating roles in the accord, which was announced in Cairo after a meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian president.

The agreement came despite a fierce overnight barrage of airstrikes by Israel in Gaza and a midday bombing attack on a public bus in Tel Aviv that left 22 Israelis wounded and carried the potential to contribute to a worsening spiral.

COMMENT:  One of the interesting sidelights here is the way Turkey, which has been playing a double game, was pushed out of the way during the negotiations.  The increasingly erratic and dangerous Islamic regime in Turkey has taken the country from a pro-Western secular nation to a regressive Islamic state, hostile to modernity, obsessively anti-Israel and isolated from the West.  Turkey is now paying a price.  It has tested the trust of too many.

November 22, 2012