Roger L. Simon

While Iraqis start to vote...

… peace seems to be breaking out in the Holy Land.

In its most dramatic response yet to new Palestinian policies against violence, Israel ordered its army Friday to stop offensive operations in the Gaza Strip and scale them back sharply in the West Bank.

The army was ordered to stop targeted killings and arrests of wanted Palestinian militants unless they present an immediate threat to Israeli lives, to lift an unspecified number of roadblocks in the West Bank to ease movement and to reopen all three crossings into the Gaza Strip.

Apparently Arik has decided to see if Abbas is for real:

The Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, said Thursday night: “I believe that the conditions are now ripe to allow us and the Palestinians to reach a historic breakthrough in the relations between us.”

We’ll be watching. MEANWHILE: Hamas wins big in Gaza elections. What does this mean? Strange as it seems, it may force Abbas and Fatah into an alliance with the Israelis.