Israel and Palestinians Agree to Long-Term Cease-Fire

An indefinite cease-fire went into effect Tuesday evening between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. The truce held Wednesday after seven weeks of fighting that killed an estimated 2,139 Palestinians, mostly civilians, as well as 64 Israeli soldiers and six civilians. The Egyptian brokered deal calls for a cessation of hostilities as well ...

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images

An indefinite cease-fire went into effect Tuesday evening between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. The truce held Wednesday after seven weeks of fighting that killed an estimated 2,139 Palestinians, mostly civilians, as well as 64 Israeli soldiers and six civilians. The Egyptian brokered deal calls for a cessation of hostilities as well as the easing of restrictions on Gaza's border crossings and fishing zones. Israeli and Palestinian delegates will hold further indirect talks in a month in Cairo on more contentious issues, such as the construction of a seaport and airport in Gaza and the release of prisoners as well as Israel's demand for the demilitarization of Gaza.

Syria

U.N. investigators have accused the Syrian government and Islamic State militants of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria. The U.N. report shows evidence of Islamic State militants committing "mass atrocities" such as public executions and recruiting child soldiers. U.N. investigators said government forces have dropped barrel bombs on civilian areas and cited eight incidents in which bombs were believed to have contained chlorine. Meanwhile, U.S. officials confirmed that an American citizen, Douglas McCain, was killed while fighting alongside Islamic State militants in Syria. McCain was reportedly killed last week in Aleppo while fighting rebels from the Free Syrian Army. The United States is considering options to broaden its campaign against Islamic State fighters, however, the administration has ruled out coordinating with the Syrian government.

An indefinite cease-fire went into effect Tuesday evening between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. The truce held Wednesday after seven weeks of fighting that killed an estimated 2,139 Palestinians, mostly civilians, as well as 64 Israeli soldiers and six civilians. The Egyptian brokered deal calls for a cessation of hostilities as well as the easing of restrictions on Gaza’s border crossings and fishing zones. Israeli and Palestinian delegates will hold further indirect talks in a month in Cairo on more contentious issues, such as the construction of a seaport and airport in Gaza and the release of prisoners as well as Israel’s demand for the demilitarization of Gaza.

Syria

U.N. investigators have accused the Syrian government and Islamic State militants of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria. The U.N. report shows evidence of Islamic State militants committing "mass atrocities" such as public executions and recruiting child soldiers. U.N. investigators said government forces have dropped barrel bombs on civilian areas and cited eight incidents in which bombs were believed to have contained chlorine. Meanwhile, U.S. officials confirmed that an American citizen, Douglas McCain, was killed while fighting alongside Islamic State militants in Syria. McCain was reportedly killed last week in Aleppo while fighting rebels from the Free Syrian Army. The United States is considering options to broaden its campaign against Islamic State fighters, however, the administration has ruled out coordinating with the Syrian government.

Headlines

Arguments and Analysis

War in Gaza: winners and losers‘ (John Reed, The Financial Times)

"In a war that has killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and 70 Israelis, caused large-scale physical ruin in Gaza, and disrupted life for thousands of people in southern Israel, it is impossible to say that either side has won.

Arguably, both sides are back at square one: their ceasefire agreement seems to be a ‘quiet-for-quiet’ arrangement similar to the truce that ended their last war in 2012, which both sides later broke. Discussion of key demands made by the Palestinians – a new seaport, the release of prisoners, the lifting of the Israeli and Egyptian trade and movement blockade on Gaza – have been put off for talks in a month’s time, which will only go ahead if calm is maintained.

Still, it is possible to talk about who did well and who emerged weaker in this conflict."

Jordan’s king pushes to expand military, intelligence authority‘ (Osama Al Sharif, Al Monitor)

"On Aug. 14, the Jordanian government announced that it would ask parliament to approve two constitutional amendments giving the king sole authority to appoint the head of the armed forces and director of the kingdom’s General Intelligence Department (GID). Almost three years ago, in October 2011, in response to public protests calling for political reforms, King Abdullah II had approved a number of constitutional amendments that curtailed some of his powers and allowed for the creation of a Constitutional Court and an Independent Elections Commission.

These reforms were hailed as a major step toward full constitutional monarchy. Jordan’s version of the Arab Spring was largely peaceful and bloodless, and Abdullah was able to project himself as a champion of political reforms that would lead, according to statements made in June 2011, to the formation of parliamentary governments. That promise remains to be fulfilled."

Egypt’s Emerging Libya Policy‘ (Mohamed Elmenshawy, Middle East Institute)

"Libya’s internal dynamics, especially the growing strength of Libya’s Islamist groups, is a cause for concern for Egypt. After the Egyptian government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization in December 2013, Egypt has been especially skeptical of the Justice and Construction Party, Libya’s Brotherhood affiliate. Some Egyptian officials fear that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood will use Libya as a base to plan its resurgence in Egypt. As a result, Egypt is seeking to form a regional coalition to contain the Brotherhood in Libya. This may mean standing in alliance with retired General Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the campaign against Islamist militias. According to Algerian newspaper ElKhabr, top intelligence officials from Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria met last month to coordinate their efforts to counter radical forces inside Libya. Former Egyptian General Hossam Swailam claimed the terrorist attack on Al-Farafra was ‘executed by groups trained inside International Muslim Brotherhood training camps in Libya and Sudan.’

Genaral Hafter himself called on Egypt to conduct ‘all necessary military actions inside Libya in order to secure its borders’ and stated that ‘we will not allow these radical elements to threaten our neighbors in Algeria and Egypt.’ Haftar’s Operation Dignity has split the small 35,000 man Libyan army. It is not known exactly how many of those were fighting alongside Hafter, but his forces were defeated by the Ansar al-Sharia’s forces in and around Benghazi."

— Mary Casey

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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