The front pages of Arab-language dailies Thursday play a medley of joy on the street and diplomatic satisfaction over the ceasefire agreement declared between Israel and Hamas Wednesday evening.
“After eight days of fighting, a ceasefire in Gaza, and Egypt is the guarantor,” reads the top headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat. The paper features three small photos of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shuttling between the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, Israel and Egypt.
“American diplomacy returns to the Middle East after an absence,” reads a second article, claiming that Clinton’s presence next to the Egyptian foreign minister as he announced the truce was “a clear message of Washington’s support for this ceasefire and the Egyptian efforts to secure its completion.”
“An Egyptian-American umbrella to stop the fire,” reads the headline in the London-based daily Al-Hayat, which features a photo of the bus attacked Wednesday in Tel Aviv.
The daily interviews Islamic Jihad deputy leader Ziad Nahalla, who says that from the start Israel requested a mutual ceasefire, but the Palestinians insisted on a package deal that would include an Israeli commitment to stop targeted killings and to open the border crossings with Gaza.
At first Israel agreed to an Egyptian proposal to that end, but then changed its mind, “proving the extent of disagreements on their side,” Nahalla says.
Al-Quds Al-Arabi, as could be expected, celebrates the ceasefire as a major victory for Hamas.
“Gaza celebrates victory after ceasefire goes into effect; Mashaal considers it a defeat for Israel; and Netanyahu threatens harsher aggression,” reads the daily’s headline.
The daily’s Gaza correspondent reports spontaneous celebrations throughout the Gaza Strip, with mosques blaring “Allahu Akbar” and joyous calls over their loudspeakers.
Tareq Homayed, editor-in-chief of A-Sharq Al-Awsat, condemns the bus attack in Tel Aviv in an op-ed that seems somewhat detached from news following the ceasefire.
Homayed claims that the terror attack in Tel Aviv does nothing to serve the Palestinian cause and only hardens Israeli positions, making them wish for a longer war. He then ties Tel Aviv to Damascus.
“The main person standing to gain is Assad,” writes Homayed, since the voices emanating from Gaza have drowned out the sounds of “Assad’s war against his people.”
The Qatari channel Al-Jazeera interviews faction leaders in Gaza who welcome the ceasefire.
Ismail Al-Ashqar, a Hamas MP, tells the channel that the victory in the latest round “is firstly thanks to God and secondly thanks to the Arab Spring, which has replaced the tyrants who have tormented their people and taken pleasure in their anguish.”
Abu-Mujahid, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, tells Al-Jazeera that the capabilities of the fighters in Gaza were not depleted by Israel “until the final moment before the ceasefire.”
Al-Hayat columnist Zoheir Quseibati considers the Palestinian strikes against Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to be nothing more than an extension of Iranian foreign policy in an attempt to deter Israel from striking the Islamic republic’s nuclear facilities.
“Muslim Brotherhood Egypt has become the primary force assigned with reining in Hamas and preventing it from firing rockets from the Gaza Strip. In effect, it is to prevent Iran from using a few factions as a show of strength every time it needs to send messages to Washington and Tel Aviv,” writes Quseibati.
But despite the outburst of Palestinian joy, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, chooses to focus on the empty half of the Palestinian glass.
“I was very disappointed not to find the lifting of the siege on Gaza as one of the main articles of the ceasefire agreement… but what is striking is that the resistance did not surrender, nor did it succumb to Israel’s conditions of extortion — especially those demanding an unconditional long-term ceasefire, handing in weapons, and preventing the smuggling of rockets.”