Egypt Now Tasked With Keeping The Peace, Or Risk Losing American Aid

TEL AVIV, Israel (CBSNewYork) — There is a deal in place that could end eight days of violence in the Middle East.

Celebrations erupted in the streets of Gaza on Wednesday, moments after a cease-fire was announced. The agreement gave Egypt the responsibility of guaranteeing the peace. The truce came just hours after a bomb exploded on a bus in Tel Aviv wounding 27 people, and Israel responded with air strikes, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

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On its face, the cease-fire will end more than a week of punishing Israeli air strikes in Gaza, and halt the barrage of rocket fire from Palestinian launchers into southern Israel.

But like most things in the Middle East the agreement had much more to it.

The decision to halt the bombing and the rockets was announced by Egypt Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr at a carefully choreographed press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“This is a critical moment for the region. Egypt’s new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace,” Clinton said.

Making Egypt in the effect the guarantor of the peace was a crucial development in the peace process. It challenges its president, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammad Morsi, a Hamas sympathizer, to do the right thing in order to keep getting some $2 billion in American aid.

It also puts him in the position of trying to keep Iranian missiles frequently brought into Gaza through Egyptian tunnels out of the hands of the Palestinian militants.

“The people of this region deserve the chance to live free from fear and violence,” Clinton said.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama sweetened the pot for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling him he should accept the deal because the United States would step up efforts to help Israel address security needs, especially the smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza. The president also promised Israel more money for its missile defense system.

The cease-fire came after a bomb exploded on a bus near the Israeli defense ministry, wounding 27 — some severely. It was regarded as an act of terrorism.

It also came after Israel mounted 30 air and sea strikes on Gaza, including the leveling of a city block where the Gaza interior ministry used to stand.

The cease-fire agreement calls for an immediate halt in violence. Israel will stop its policy of assassinating Hamas officials, while Hamas promised to halt all rocket fire by the many militant groups operating in Gaza.

The emotional pattern is reflected half a world away in a Livingston, N.J., home, where parents worried Wednesday night about the 18-year-old daughter they allowed to travel to Israel for study.

“Right now we’re not letting anything change for her. We’ve asked her not to go anywhere for the moment, to stay put in her apartment and stay with her friends. Next week she’ll be allowed to move about a little bit. We’re not sure it’s real yet,” Stacy David told CBS 2’s Lou Young.

The anxiety and subsequent relief rippled through thousands of families in the New York area — people with ties to Israel and on the Palestinian side as well. In one store in Brooklyn, CBS 2’s Young found two of our neighbors with family in Gaza City.

Celebratory sweets were offered to strangers, along with a sigh of relief for a brother and sister-in-law who visited New York last month only to go home to war zone.

“Look at my face. I was crying every day because I see from both sides. It’s not just our side. I see people has died, kids, babies.  That’s not fair for us, for anybody,” Amany Khass said.

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