Egytpian troops continue establishing a semblance of order in the tumultous area around its border with Gaza. The huge crowds that tore through openings in the fence a few days ago in order to secure goods are no longer present, but Egypt is still furious that over two dozen of its soldiers were injured in the melee. The Palestinian Aurhority has made it clear to Hamas there would be no assistance until Hamas relinquishes control over Gaza that it assumed several months ago. President Abbas met with Israel Prime Minister Olmert about the issue and both are in accord there will be no compromise with Hamas.
At the United Nations, a Syrian proposal to condemn Israel for its actions in Gaza has been replaced by one which not only condemns Israel but calls for an end to Kassam rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas and other militants. Syria and Qatar refuse to go along with the new proposal even though most members of the Arab League have agreed to come out against attacks on Israel.
The interesting aspect of these developments is a new sense of realism among most members of the Arab League. They seek some form of accomodation with Israel and are tired of the ongoing refusal on the part of Hamas to end violence. This is the perfect time for the Israel government to make a dramatic announcement such as being willing to withdraw from West Bank settlements. In the meantime, there is need for a UN force to control Gaza. This blog believes the force should be drawn from Muslim nations like Turkey or Morocco or Egypt.
Posted in George Bush, Human Rights, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Military, Muslims, Peace, Politics, Rudy Giuliani, Syria, US Foreign Policy, World News
Tagged Abbas, Gaza, Olmert, Syria, UN resolution, US
Israel prime Minister Ehud Olmeert vowed there will be an end to Kassam rocket fire from gaza or else. “We are not looking to fight in the Gaza Strip, we do not want to harm its residents and we have no special desire to kill any citizen. But, we will not and we cannot continue to suffere the endless Kassam rocket fire on cititizens of the st ate of Israel.” Foreign Minister Tzipi Livi argued Israel could defend its citizens not only through negotiations but by means of “uncompromising war” against Palestine attacks from Gaza. Earlier yesterday, Vice Premier Haim Ramon claimed Israel military action was beginning to have an impact and that Hamas leaders were now more interested in negotiations. A senior Hamas official was quoted by Israel radio on Wednesday as indicating a desire on the part of the Hamas government of Ismail Haniyeh to halt Kassem rocket fire.
A continual mistake on the part of Israel and other nations is failure to engage Hamas in a dialogue. The demand that all terrorist activity should cease prior to talks makes no sense. Once people are engaged in discussions they are more prone to consider the effect of ending terrorist activities. When all is said and done, Hamas does need to become part of a political process if it is to survive. The people of Gaza need some peace and that will only occur if Hamas talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Posted in Human Rights, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Military, Muslims, Peace, Politics, Religion, War, World News
Tagged Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF attacks, Kassams, Olmert
Prime Minister Olmert made a special trip to meet Jordan’s King Abdullah to discuss the growing tensions created by rocket bomb attacks on Israel from Muslim militants and Israel bombing of Gaza Strip targets. King Abdullah urged Israel to stick to the Annapolis Conference road map and halt further building on the West Bank. He emphasized, “halt unilateral activities that may obstruct progress.” The Hamas authorities have done little to halt rocket attacks and as each side bombs, the other feels the need to retaliate. Israel is concerned that a recent rocket attack included a longer range Katyusha which landed in an Israel city. There is little doubt any further such bombings will result in a massive Israel response.
Up to this point, the Bush, Abbas, and Olmert approach has been to ignore Hamas as a peace factor. Hamas stands on the sideline creating problems by allowing rocket launches. One solution might be to involve Hamas in peace negotiations. At this point, since ignoring them has not changed anything, what is to be lost by trying another approach which actively engages the group in a peace process?
Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised to use talks with Palestinians that begin on Wednesday as an opportunity to achieve a lasting peace. “This is an opportunity,” he said, “that entails many uncertainties, many risks, many dangers. We cannot ignore them. But, we absolutely must not allow uncertainty and risks to prevail because an opportunity also exists. I intend to take advantage of this opportunity to wage serious, ongoing and uninterrupted negotiations in order to forge an historic path toward a new diplomatic reality.” the prime minister’s words hopefully can become translated from verbal utterances to written documents that achieve his goals of a secure Israel that can live in peace with Palestinians. However, even as he spoke, President Abbas indicated he could not attend the scheduled Wednesday meeting unless Israel ceases further construction of housing on the West Bank or in East Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Olmert is obviously taking a gamble, one that will be attacked by those in the Jewish community who prefer the certainty of uncertainty to the risk of moving toward conflict resolution. Negotiation always entails a give and take since each side must be prepared to give up some of what they possess in order to possess peace. There is no necessity of building new housing at this moment in East Jerusalem nor on the West Bank. There comes a time when in negotiation one must take a step back in order to make a giant leap forward. Reality is that East Jerusalem will become the capital of a new Palestinian nation. The issue is ensuring religious freedom and access to all religious facilities for every person living in East Jerusalem. The West Bank can not remain as presently constituted, at best, a small portion of the settlers will be allowed to remain, but most must return to Israel.
As I write these words, it is clear some who consider themselves “defenders of Israel,” are furious because in their view not an inch of land should be abandoned. It is time for those who wish Israel to live in peace, security, and prosperity to be the voices of reason that Olmert must follow. Self righteous anger and hatred toward Palestinians will only result in ending all hopes for peace and reconciliation.
Posted in Human Rights, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Multicultural, Muslims, Peace, Politics, World News
Tagged Abbas, Israel, Olmert, Palestinians, West Bank
According to Saleh Al-Naami, reporting from Gaza, a majority of Arab newspapers are wartning Presdient Abbas, head of Palestine, that accepting Israel-American proposals without significant changes will result in large scale opposition to his authority. Statements by Prime Minister Olmert that 2008 is not an obligatory date for Israel to complete negotiations with the PA or by his deputy, Avigdor Lieberman, who suggested that even the end of 2008 may not be an appropriate date to complete negotiations, raise fears among Palestinians about how serious is Israel to work out a compromise. Palestinians are able to draw upon concerns of Israel human rights advocates about continuing construction of housing in West Bank settlements, and the failure to take action against settlers who build without permits from army authorities.
Palestinian critics believe the Bush administration is biased toward Israel and not it has withdrawn a non-binding resolution proposal from the UN Security Council supporting the outcome of the Annapolis meeting. There apparently is increasing pressure on Abbas to resume negotiations with Hamas in order to present a unified Palestinian front. Nehad Al-Sheikhh Khalil, a Palestinian writer, argues, ‘following Annapolis, Palestinian public opinion is increasingly convinced that we are on the threshold of a new catastrophe(Nakba), granting legitimacy to Israel’s plans for mass population transfers now that Bush has characterized Palestine as the national homeland of the Jews.”
This writer argues it is time to recognize the inability of the Bush administration to serve as an objective mediator in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. We suggest that Turkey assume the role of mediator since it has excellent relations with both Israel and Arab nations. Bush has squandered any opportunity to be a neutral third party. In the end, neither the United States nor the UN Security Council can arrive at a just compromise which enables all parties to the conflict to believe they have attained a significant attainment of goals. A “compromise” means just that– each side must give up something it desires. We believe it is of paramount importance that the security of Israel as a nation must be guaranteed as well as its protection from terrorist actions. In turn, we believe Israel must withdraw from West Bank settlements and allow Palestinians to assume control of East Jerusalem. All religious centers must be respected as well as the right to pray in them. We also believe there is need for creation of education committees which would work to eliminate hate from school textbooks and pick up on the Turkish proposal for creation of a Middle Eastern Peace University which would include people of all faiths.
Posted in George Bush, Human Rights, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Multicultural, Muslims, Peace, Politics, US Foreign Policy, World News
Tagged Abbas, Hamas, Israel, Olmert, Palestine