Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 11:28
9:35 p.m. A member of the Hamas negotiating team in Cairo says a cease-fire agreement with Israel will be announced within 72 hours. Israeli officials have offered no comment on the claim.
9:30 p.m. Evening Update: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit says US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend an international donors' conference for Gaza next month in Cairo. Gheit met Clinton in Washington to urge a more "even-handed approach" to Israel and Palestine than that shown by the Bush Administration.
12:30 p.m. Interesting and little-noticed development in Cairo. High-ranking Fatah officials met the Hamas delegation on Tuesday, raising the possibility of a reconciliation. Hamas had earlier said that it would not attend a 22 February meeting in Cairo to discuss Palestinian unity, but Fatah's Azzam el-Ahmed says that the Gazan leadership is now considering attendance.
10:30 a.m. I Heart You from Tel Aviv: "Israel temporarily eased its blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Thursday to allow Palestinian flower growers to export 25,000 blooms to Europe ahead of Valentine's Day."
Morning Update (8 a.m. GMT; 10 a.m. Israel/Palestine): No significant movement overnight on either the formation of the new Israeli Government or the Israel-Gaza cease-fire talks. There could be some development in Cairo today, at least in Hamas' position, as its delegation is meeting Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.
Washington, after the high profile of the George Mitchell mission, is standing well back at the moment. Its token move yesterday was to welcome an Egyptian confernce on aid for Gaza, which will not take place until 2 March. Still, the US Government can't let go of its "Mahmoud Abbas Good, Hamas Bad" political approach: the US hopes the conference will "support the Palestinian Authority's plan for the reconstruction of Gaza as an integral part of a future Palestinian state".
Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Forces have carried out an airstrike against a target in southern Gaza.