Tag Archives: Abbas

Israel– Gaza Invasion Or Peace?

During the past few years, Israel and the United States have jointly pursued a policy of non-engagement with Hamas. The result of this foreign policy approach bears scant evidence of success. The Israel government is presently confronting a situation in which it could invade Gaza or whether it could risk accepting Egypt’s offer of a cease fire. Secretary of State Rice has flown to Israel in a last ditch effort to resolve the “situation on Gaza” as her spokesman so aptly put it. President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority is close to losing all faith in Israel’s willingness to engage in negotiations that might lead to creation of a two-state resolution of the Palestine issue.

Israel apparently is divided over what to do. A majority of her Cabinet is opting for an invasion while others argue the Egyptian proposal must be accepted. A potential danger is a Fatah-Hamas dialogue which results in a new coalition government, a step that might kill all chances for a negotiated peace with Israel. If that happens, will the region witness another Muslim series of demonstrations and violence?

Palestinians And Hamas Talk After Anger At Israel

Leaders of Hamas welcomed the new initiative by President Abbas who heads the Palestinian Authority. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya expressed the pleasure of Hamas at the “call of president Abbas to hold a national dialgue and the new positive spirit in his speech, and we state that our hand reaches out for national unity.” The Hamas leader emphasized that any talk would not take place within an environment of either side claiming to be the “victor” or the “vanquished.” President Abbas has dropped his demands that Hamas return to the situation as it was before they took over the Gaza Strip.

There is no question President Abbas has reached out to Hamas due to his growing disgust with failure on the part of Israel to present positive evidence of its desire for peace. Abbas is furious at the continual building of settlements on the West Bank and now in Jerusalem. Abbas made clear, “peace and reconciliation cannot be attained through swords of occupation or bulldozers of settlements. The Israel decision to annex Jerusalem and build settlements in the city and on the West Bank along with the separation-‘apartheid’ wall are null and void.”

The American-Israel policy of refusing to have discussions with Hamas can also be declared as null and void since all they have done is lead to increased power for Hamas. Israel has forced President Abbas to reach out to Hamas and will undoubtedly soon blame him for taking this initiative. His hands were tied by Israel actions on the West Bank and in Jerusalem.

Abbas Claims No Progress-Rhetoic But Inertia

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his pessimism about any change in the current Isral-Palestinian conflict despite having extensive discussions with President Bush and Secretary of State Rice. “Frankly, so far nothing has been achieved. But, we are still conducting direct work to have a solution.” Abbas belives a major stumbling block to peace is the refusal of the Bush administration to exert pressure on the Israel government to cease building settlements on the West Bank. “We demanded the Americans implement the first phase of the road map that talks about the cessation of settlement expansion. This is the biggest blight that stands as a big rock in the path of negotiations.”

Aides to Abbas say he was infuriated with Secretary Rice’s refusal to discuss the 1967 border issue. “We demanded that they talk about the 67 borders. None of them talk about the 67 borders.” There are talks, there are negotiations, but, as Abbas put it, “the situation is still as it was.”

President Bush explained to Abbas that he was “focusing on the bigger picture” which would entail once more expressing a declaration of principle. Bush apparently believes there is need for more declarations of principles, but Abbas believes there is need for some immediate action.

Bush procrastinates, Abbas fumes, and the Israel government continues its nonceasing drive to construct housing in the West Bank settlements.

Syria Prepares For War As War Rages In Gaza Area

President Bashar Assad of Syria told a Lebanese newspaper his nation accepts the possibility they may wind up in a war with Israel sometime in the coming months. “If israel declares war on Lebanon and Syria or if America declares war on Iran,” his nation is prepared to enter such a fray. He blamed America as forcing Israel to continue remaining in Lebanon despite their desire to leave. He noted in an ominous aside, “we know there is someone in the American government who is interested in this war, and we are preparing for it.” One can only assume he is referring to Vice President Dick Cheney. However, even as the Syrian president breathed fire and brimstone, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert insisted his nation is exchanging messages in order to clarify how peace can be arranged between the two countries.

Fighting continues in the Gaza Strip area where three Israelis and several Palestinians lost their lives. A Reuters cameraman, Fadel Shana was killed while apparently filming his own death since he left footage which shows an Israel tank firing in his direction.

Meanwhile, speaking in Moscow, President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority called for a summit meeting to be held in Moscow. Does this request signify a loss of confidence in Secretary of State Rice’s work in the Middle East?

Helpess And Hopeless Peace Negotiations!

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met last week in the ongong process of talk and inaction. They discussed the lack of results from secret talks being held by their respctive foreign ministers on issues related to West Bank settlements, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Israel, in response to American pleas, did remove some roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank but Palestinian an third-party observers say only a small number of dirt piles have been pushed aside and that the main obstacles to Palestinian traffic still remain intact. Olmert complained West Bank settlements were in clear violation of the roadmap plan while Olmert cited a letter from President Bush in 2004 which assured Israel their West Bank settlements would remain intact in any fnal-status solution with Palestinians.

As the two leaders met to discuss more meetings, Hamas continued its own threats of pssible bombings anddenunciation of any talks. Israel leaders this week warned of war with Iran and the civilian population conducted air raid drills. The only result of all these discussions is no result. Perhaps, that is the Bush plan for resolving Middle East problems. After all, that is the goal in Iraq.

Israel’s Failed Policies In Gaza Aid Hamas

Israel hard liners like Defense Minister Ehud Barak have been aruging for years the only way to end violence is to be more violent than your opponents. Israel has embarked on a policy of assassinations and killings of Hamas leaders in order to destroy its popularity among Gazans. A new survey by the West Bank based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, shows if new presidential elections were held, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would receive 47% of the vote compared with 46% for President Abbas. Several months ago, President Abbas had a clear majority of the votes. The survey also discovered Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who has been imprisoned, would defeat Haniyeh by 57% to 38%.

There is no evidence any of Israel’s military solutions have been successful other than providing some Israelis satisfaction that murderers have been killed. The military solution does not work. Marwan Barghouti was responsible for the deaths of Israelis, but there is a strong possibility he is now prepared to act in a calm and peaceful manner to achieve creation of a Palestinian state. Many Israelis recoil in shock at the thought that someone with Jewish blood on his hands should be allowed to head a nation. These feelings confronted Irish leaders who hammered out a peace agreement and they were felt by South African leaders who shook hands with Nelson Mandela and accepted the African National Congress despite its terrorist actions.

The bottom line is no evidence exists the Israel policy of an eye for an eye is succeeding.

Hamas Sets Terms For Cease Fire With Israel

Hamas has publicly annunced its terms for establishing a cease fire with Israel as Egypt works behind the scenes to broker a truce that would end Gaza rocket attacks and Israel bombings. Hamas Gaza leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said, “There must be a commitment by Israel to end all its aggression against our people, assassinations, killings and raids, and lift the (Gaza) siege and reopen the crossings.” He said a cease fire agreement should be “reciprocal, comprehensive and simultaneous” and should apply both to Gaza and the West Bank. He followed with the normal Hamas rhetoric about not abandoning “our people in the West Bank.”

Egyptian negotiators are attempting to hammer out a deal under which rocket attacks would cease and troops under the command of President Abbas would control crossings. The agreement is in keeping with the 2005 crossings arrangement between the US, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority wich called for placing the crossings under forces loyal to Abbas. Damascus-based Hamas leader Mohammed Nasser said his group was willng to agree on a cease fire if both sdes respected one.

The conditions for a cease fire are now in place. Step one in any movement toward peace is ending violence. A cease fire agreement will not resolve all issues between Palestinians and Israel, but it will prove if a cease fire agreement can be kept, other such arrangements might also be respected by both sides. The road to peace sometimes begins with small steps.

Have Israel and Hamas Agreed To Cease Fire?

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told the Arab language al-Arabiya television network that Israel had in fact agreed to a cease fire with Hamas. His statement apparently contradicts comments made earlier by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who insisted there was no cease fire agreement with Hamas. According to Abbas, Hamas had obtained a promise from Israel it will end the policy of killing leaders of the militant organization. It appears firing of Kassam rockets and Israel military efforts have quieted down over the past few days. There are reports Secretary Rice during her recent visit began the process of some unofficial exchanges between Hamas and Israel. Olmert did say “if they don’t fire Qaddams at us, we won’t attack in Gaza.” A military source indicated both sides are cooling down their operations before things got out of hand.

Military sources indicate Hamas knows there are three alternatives:
1. If rocket fire stops completely, the IDF will take no further military action.
2. If rockets hit Siderot and other communities near Gaza, Israel will respond with air attacks.
3. If rockets hit Ashketon, there will be ground operations.

The real question is what to do during this lull. If Hamas uses it to resupply without any thought of ending rocket attacks, it will become a disaster for Gaza and for Israel. A loical solution at this point is to include Hamas representatives in peace negotiations with Israel and Abbas.

Jerusalem Blood Bath=Hamas Victory

During the past several months the goal of Hamas has been to throtle efforts at peace betwen Palestine and Israel. The slaughter of eight innocent Jewish youths culminates the triumph of this strategy. In Beirut, Muhammead Fadlallah, spiritual mentor of Hizbullah speaks in the spirit of a true religious leader by describing killing innocent children as the “heroic” Jerusalem operation. Blame for the current fiasco in negotiation for peace can be shared by many individuals ranging from George Bush to Hamas to Abbas to Olmert to the despicable failure on the part of religious leaders on all sides to use their moral influence in furthering the cause of peace. The carnage in Gaza and in Jerusalem did not totally end peace negotiations but it would require a new mental state of mind to ensure any possibility of success.

This blog suggests the following as possible ways out of the current impasse:

1. Draw upon the mediation model in Kenya by asked leaders not involved in the Middle East to help in the process. We suggest Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan and a representative from Turkey which enjoys good relations with both sides.
2. Involve Hamas at all stages of the mediation process.
3. Bring in a Muslim Army to supervise the Gaza area that would be drawn from Jordan,
Egypt, Turkey, Morocco and Algeria. Israel would reopen exist crossings.
4. Keep Condi Rice or anyone connected to the Bush administration out of the process.
5. Make it known clearly any violations of the interim peace process would result in
punitive action. That means no targeted assassinations of Muslim leaders and no suicide
bombings or rocket attacks.
6. Each side would be compelled to announce one major concession at opening sessions
of the peace process. Israel might announce that any land taken on the West Bank from
Palestinian owners would be restored. Abbas might announce there would not be a
demand for return of all refgugees.
Allow the present situation to continue and disaster will occur.

Gaza Crisis Reaches Critical Stage

A coalition of eight British-based human rights organizations released a scathing report which claims the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is at the worst point since Israel captured the territory in 1967. Of the approximately 1.1 million people in the Strip, about 80% now depend on food aid as opposed to 63% in 2006. The unemployment rate is at least 40% and close to 70% of the 110,000 workers employed in the private sector have lost their jobs. Hospitals are suffering from power cuts which may last up to 12 hours, and the water and sewage systems are close to collapse.

Israel blames Hamas for the rocket attacks on Israeli cities which have created conditions of fear and anxiety among their inhabitants. The Israel Defense Ministry challenged the report’s conclusions and argued each day truckloads of medicines and equipment enter the Gaza Strip. This week NGO Monitor which is based in Jerusalem called on NGOs to cease using their authority in order to further political efforts which take the side of Palestinians.

Perhaps, it is time for all sides to end rhetorical battles as to whether Israel or Hamas is the one responsible for the current crisis. Perhaps, it is time to bring in outside mediators who have no connection with either side. Kofi Annan spent a month working to resolve the Kenya crisis and put together a nonpartisan group of Elder Statesmen to assist in his efforts. It might be time for such a group to bring together Hamas, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority to work out a cease fire which would be a prelude towards obtaining a peace settlement. It is important to keep out the Bush administration from further efforts to achieve peace.