Tag Archives: Palestine

No Settlement On Settlements In Israel

The focus on most observers this week is on attempts by President Obama to persuade Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree on the concept of a two state solution to the dispute with Palestinians. Israel leader Ariel Sharon worked out an agreement with George Bush under which the United States would ignore Israel accelerated construction of housing in major West Bank settlements, particularly around Jerusalem. President Obama is now trapped in a dilemma– is the cost of getting Netanyahu to the table for serious discussions about an independent Palestinian state, allowing Israel to maintain its settlements on the West Bank? Of course, no Palestinian government could reach an agreement that allowed the extent of Israel settlements to remain in place.

Most probably any final agreement will have to allow some residue of settlements although Palestinians will demand their share of Jerusalem and some acceptance of return of refugees. One can only wonder if Barack Obama knows what he has gotten into by becoming president and attempting to negotiate the swirling waters of the Middle East.

“Moment Of Truth” In Middle East?

Tony Blair, the Quartet representative in the Middle East, told the Jerusalem Post that events in the Middle East were fast coming down to either important decisions are made or the region will face the possibility of further disaster. We’ve reached, “the moment of truth” as to which direction the area will go. Meanwhile, King Abdullah told the Times that all eyes will be focused on Washington in the coming weeks as Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has his first meeting with President Obama who already has made clear the United States supports a two state solution. The King warned, “if the call is in May that this is not the right time or we are not interested, then the world is going to be sucked into another conflict in the Middle East.”

The King in his recent meeting with Obama presented the Arab League proposal which calls for recognition of Israel in exchange for return to the 1967 borders and East Jerusalem being the capital of a new Palestinian state. The proposal is what Israel wanted forty years ago and now that dream can be achieved.

The Arabs and Israelis are both sick and tired of another set of talks that end up with plans to hold further meetings. It is time for action that meets the needs and aspirations of all concerned parties.

No Substitute For Two State Solution Says Merkel

Since the end of World War II, Germany has been among the staunchest supporters of the state of Israel. German Chancellor Angela Merkel came out strongly in favor of a two state solution in the Israel-Palestine issue even though Prime Minister Netanyahu has embraced the idea. “There is no alternative to such a solution” she told Arab leaders. “We hope the new Israel government will make progress here with the Palestinian forces.” Her comments simply echoed those of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The question is –will the government of Israel confront reality and emerge from the bunker of denial?

Merkel, like many European leaders, believes settling the Israel-Palestinian issue is the first step in creating conditions that will allow resolving issues with the Iranian government. Most Arab nations are finally willing to recognize the existence of Israel, something that Israeli leaders have wished for over the past decades. It is time for Israel to trust because only friendship and trust will lead to long term solutions.

Muslims Not Receptive To Pope’s Visit

A few years ago, Pope Benedict XVI was giving a speech and quoted from a medieval text which referred to the Prophet Muhammad as violent. Middle Eastern Muslims are demanding the Pope apologize for the reference and promised not to regard his visit to the Holy Land as a welcome sight. A banner in Nazareth, the home town of Jesus condemns anyone who insults the Muslim religion or their prophet. Municipal officials refused to indicate if they would remove the banner prior to the Pope’s visit. Some Muslim clerics made clear they would not talk with him while others said they would engage in dialogue provided the Pope expressed his sorrow for the remark. Actually, the purpose of the Pope’s visit is to foster inter-faith relations.

There is something hypocritical about the Pope being compelled to apologize for remarks concerning a medieval comment. Read any Muslim newspaper in the Middle East and one encounters stories that are vicious in hostility toward Jews and Christians. Neither Jews nor Christians have any right to religion in nations like Saudi Arabia which apparently is OK with Muslim leaders who worry about medieval quotes. Visit any bookstore in the Middle East and get an inexpensive copy of Hitler’s books.

Avigdor Lieberman-The Mouth That Roars Nonsense!

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was in office less than eight hours before he got around to undoing years of diplomatic efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East. He told former foreign minister Tzipi Livni she was wrong to say the Annapolis conference had no validity and the only document he would recognize was the 2003 “performance-based road map to a permanent two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” The road map first requires Palestinians to dismantle terrorist groups but also calls on Israel to cease housing construction on the West Bank. Lieberman made clear, “we will never agree to jump over all the clauses and go to the last one which is negotiations over a final agreement.”

We wonder if he will abide by the road map which calls for an end to building new housing on the West Bank. The right wing racist made clear “the two-state solution, however, is not one that is under review.” He speaks with the mouth of thunder and signifies nothing of worth.

Omar al-Bashir And Muslim Hypocrisy

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir who has been accused of war crimes against the people of Darfur was warmly greeted in Qatar where he arrived for a meeting of the Arab League. The 22 member Arab League said it would not enforce a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court since it does not believe the Sudan leader is guilty of any crimes. The Arab League issued a statement: “the leaders reject attempt to politicize the principles of international justice and using them to undermine the sovereignty and unity and stability of Sudan.” Of course, Muslim nations never hesitate to condemn the state of Israel for its actions, but apparently the murder of 300,000 people in Darfur by Omar al-Bashir is of no importance to these supposed fighters for human rights.

Those who fight for the rights of Palestinians and refuse to condemn the slaughter of 300,000 and rape of thousands of women only reveal themselves to be hypocrites. Apparently, for defenders of the rights of Palestinians there are two standards — one for Israel and none for Muslim societies which kill.

Israeli Government Does It Again!

The Israeli government is in disarray with scant probability a compromise Cabinet will emerge that has the support of most people and can act in a vigorous manner to further the cause of peace. The Gaza expedition was disastrous both from a political and military stand point as well as making the name of Israel hated in many parts of the world. Angry Israelis can complain that any nation which condemns their invasion of Gaza is simply displaying anti-semitism. One would assume given the precarious situation, Israel officials would walk carefully to avoid initiating any further conflict. However, the Israel government has announced it intended to evict 1,500 Palestinians from the Al-Bustan neighborhood of east Jerusalem on ground they are occupying the houses illegally since the homes were built without permits. Of course, most of the houses were built before 1967 when they were governed by Jordan.

It is not the most Earth shaking problem but it simply points out how Israel leadership continually ignores public relations. The entire issue of who lives where in Jerusalem should be left to negotiations and evicting people is hardly the way to work for peace. Such actions simply add more fuel to the fire of discord. At this point, it is to the self interest of Israel to back away from conflict and present a stance of respecting the rights of Palestinians.

Turkish President Blasts Islamophobia

Palestinian leaders have been arguing with Israel for decades and during the same period have been bitterly opposed to one another. Turkish President Abdullah Gul, made clear there would be no success in establishing a Palestinian state until all factions agree to cease their infighting and unite in the pursuit of diplomatic victory. He was the first foreign born Muslim to address the Saudi Arabia Consultative Council and he spoke in support of the Saudi proposal for recognition of Israel in exchange for withdrawal to the 1967 borders including evacuation of the West Bank. But, he made clear conflict within the ranks of Palestinians has made difficult achieving Palestinian goals. Gul emphasized Palestinians had to embrace one another because “division among Palestinians is the heaviest dynamite in the foundations of an independent Palestinian state.”

Gul went to great length to make clear the Muslim religion is NOT one of terrorism or violence. “We’ve never had any business with terrorism; however, terrorists may emerge from (all) societies, from every religion.” Perhaps, it is time for Israeli leaders to reach out in peace with Muslim leaders who seek reconciliation and compromise. But, Israel, must accept the principle of compromise and giving up some of its goals.

Egypt Blasts Hamas For Foiling Peace

Egypt is the only Arab nation which has actually been actively engaged in attempting to resolve internal Palestinian differences in order to work for peace with Israel. This has caused tensions between Egyptian officials who are responsible for guarding its border with Gaza. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit finally came out publicly to complain efforts to attain peace between Fatah and Hamas had broken down due to “Hamas’ lack of enthusiasm toward reconciliation.” The Egyptians have been working with over 13 Palestinian factions in order to get some semblance of unity. One proposal was to create a new government run by men and women with technical experience who were not bound to be for either Hamas or Fatah. It was believed such a government would be warmly welcomed by the United States and the European Union, but Hamas pulled out of the agreement at the last moment.

Egypt has now made clear to the Arab League it was supporting President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. This confusion illustrates difficulties on the part of Israel to work out a compromise solution with Palestinian factions.

Israel Leader Netanyahu Dubious About Peace

Israel leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has an excellent chance to become the next prime minister of his nation, has told colleagues he is not interested in ideas proposed by outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for agreeing to the 1967 borders as part of a peace settlement with Palestinians. The Arab League in a full page advertisement in The New York Times stated openly its willingness to make peace with Israel and recognize its government in exchange for acceptance of the 1967 borders. Netanyahu represents those in Israel who will not surrender the land taken from Palestinians after the 1967 war and definitely will not abandon the West Bank. Unless Israel agrees to ending its West Bank settlement and allowing East Jerusalem to be the capital of a Palestinian state, there is no prospect of peace.

Prime Minister Olmert for years was a hard liner, but being in a position of responsibility made him aware that compromise is the only path for peace in the Middle East. Netanyahu represents those who dwell in the past and refuse to explore the current impasse through a new lens.