Find way to end Palestinian crisis
After a violent week, Israel welcomed a Palestinian offer to restore a cease-fire.
THE Hamas-led Palestinian government's offer to restore the cease-fire with Israel provides a glimmer of hope that the recent violence in the Mideast will be brought to a halt. However, the tension undoubtedly will continue, and the international community needs to quickly complete a mechanism to address a humanitarian crisis.
Hamas said on June 9 that it no longer would honor the 16-month truce after eight Palestinian civilians were killed in an explosion in Gaza. Hamas fired several dozen rockets toward southern Israel last weekend, seriously injuring one Israeli, and Israel responded Tuesday with missile strikes that killed 10 Islamic militants.
A civil war among Palestinians seemed be brewing at the same time. Members of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement on Monday set fire to government offices on the West Bank, and Hamas fighters attacked the headquarters of the Fatah-dominated security forces.
Hamas offered on Thursday to restore the cease-fire, and Israel agreed to the condition that it would halt missile strikes. "If it is quiet," a spokesman said, "we will answer that with quiet."
While welcome, that does nothing to address the humanitarian needs. Since Hamas took power in April, the U.S. Treasury has barred nearly all financial dealings with the Palestinian Authority. A federal law makes it a crime to provide funds to terrorist groups, and Hamas is on the list.
The United States joined Russia, Europe and the U.N. last month on a plan to speed humanitarian aid to Palestinians. But Paul Wolfowitz, president of the World Bank and former deputy defense secretary in the Bush administration, says the bank is not assured that the money will bypass the Hamas government as intended.
The private donations the Hamas government has received are a small fraction of the $360 million in back wages owed to its employees.
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