Senior official: Israel to announce unilateral cease-fire

JERUSALEM (CNN) – Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to announce a unilateral cease-fire Saturday evening, according to a senior Israeli official.

Israel will retain the right to respond to any rocket fire, the official said.

Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are expected to announce the cease-fire during a news conference after a security Cabinet meeting, the official said.

The senior official says he expects Olmert to announce a “cessation of military operations because we have achieved our goals both militarily on the ground and with our international partners,”

“Hamas’ military machine has been substantially destroyed,” the official added. “They have been given a sufficient deterrence that they will think twice before attacking again.”

Saturday’s security Cabinet meeting was meant to vote on the basics of a plan that could end the fighting in Gaza. It came a day after Israeli and U.S. diplomats signed an agreement designed to stop arms smuggling into the Palestinian territory through tunnels.

Earlier Saturday, Barak had called on the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to “continue their operational activity,” adding that Israel is “very close to achieving the goals and completing them with diplomatic agreements,” according to a written statement issued by the defense minister’s office.

Rest of the article available over at CNN.

Good news if both sides can reach some kind of agreement. Israel, despite the backing of just about everyone on the planet, still looks bad for launching artillery strikes into Gaza. Hamas, as usual, just look like insecure knuckleheads.

Wonder how long it’ll be until Hamas breaks the truce…