Tag Archives: Palestine

Peres Says Hamas Helping Achieve Peace!

President Shimon Peres offered a back handed compliment to Hamas by arguing its terrorism and radical message is forcing both Palestinian and Israel leaders to get serious concerning the need for peace because failure to do so will only increase Hamas power and influence in the region. He doesn’t believe moderate Palestinians wish to live under the rule of religious fanatics and are anxious to find some way of achieving a compromise peace with Israel. Peres emphasized, “we will not cease to negotiate with the Palestinians and help them with all our might in order to establish an independent Palestinian state with a real economy. The better the life is for the Palestinians, the better it will be for us and we want to see the Palestinians as a neighbor and not as an enemy.”

Any logical person would have to agree with Peres, but, unfortunately there are too many hot headed fundamentalists among both Israelis and Palestinians who prefer war to compromise. The Saudi Arabia proposal for a return to 1967 borders is the basis for a compromise solution. Can Peres sell it to the West Bank settlers?

Livni Opposes PM Olmert’s Palestinian Peace Plan

Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni made clear she opposes efforts by Prime Minister Olmert to reach a peace agreement with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. She told French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, “I do not believe in far-reaching proposals and an attempt to expedite matters, especially in light of the political situation.” Olmert told the French foreign minister of his frustration because Abbas would not agree to his proposal which indicated a desire to accept the 1967 borders which has been a goal of Palestinian leaders for years. Livni’s argument is that Abbas could not agree to the Olmert offer due to opposition within Palestine, and she added, “the political situation in Israel also does not allow it to be signed.”

The best that Livni can offer is “let us not allow dates or political changes to stand in our way. The point is to understand the required concessions in order to conduct a correct process.” Perhaps, Livni is hoping John McCain will win the election and then support any Israel plan regardless if it has any chance of being accepted by Palestinians.

Israel could use a Nelson Mandela in charge of the government.

Iran Continues Rhetoric Of Defiance Towards Israel

Iranian leaders once again engaged in the rhetoric of defiance as their contribution towards attaining peace in Palestine. Majlis Speaker, Ali Larigjani, urged Muslim nations throughout the world to unite in defending the people of Palestine against Israel and Zionism. He urged “serious and practical” steps to resolve the Israel and Palestine conflict. As usual, Larigani, had nothing to offer the fight for peace other than more denunciations of Israel and Zionism. On one hand, he asked the world to find “practical” solutions but for him, as well as most Iranian leaders, “practical” contains impractical ideas such as driving out Zionists.

Iran could be a major player in assisting Palestinian leaders to attain some type of agreement with Israel that would ensure peace between the two people. But, all Iran has to offer are fiery words of hate as though somehow talking about fighting and death will actually lead to a compromise agreement. If Iran was serious, it would put forth concrete ideas that might serve as the basis for negotiation.

Unity Israel Government Or 3rd Intifada?

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, rumored to be the next prime minister, told reporters her nation needs a unity government to avoid problems that eventually could result in a 3rd Intifada. If she does become the new prime minister creating a government including all parties would be among her goals. “I believe that what we called in the past left and right is something that belongs in the past.” However, she was equally insistent international pressure could be dangerous and result in the emergence of a 3rd Intifada. Lvni believes Palestinian Authority leaders and those from Israel must resolve differences and create a two nation reality in the region.

She compared the current situation to 2000 when President Clinton tried to broker a peace agreement before he left office. Now President Bush is attempting to do the same thing and Livni fears placing tight deadlines to achieve peace will invariably result in more problems.

Unfortunately, Foreign Minister Livni, has yet to address key issue such as West Bank settlements and the desire of Palestinians for east Jerusalem as their capital. At some point, Israel leaders must confront the realities of peace.

Palestinians Reject Israel Proposal

President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority rejected the latest Israel proposal on grounds it still maintains Israel control of the West Bank and prevents Arabs from having east Jerusalem as its capital. “The Palestinian side will only accept a Palestinian state with territorial continuity. with holy Jerusalem as its capital, without settlements, and on thee June 4, 1967 boundaries.” An essential aspect of the Israel proposal is that the Palestinian Authority should be in control of all areas including Gaza.

The United States has been urging a resolution of the Palestinian-Israel dispute for over two years with no apparent progress. Perhaps, President Bush and Secretary of State Rice might pose the question as to whether their presence as “mediators” is an effective strategy. It might be more appropriate if Turkey served in the role of mediator.

Hamas And Fatah Moving Towards Reconciliation

Events in the Middle East are slowly but surely moving toward changes which either will result in attainment of some form of peacefully resolution of the Palestine-Israel conflict or an escalation of violence. Hamas and Fatah are in the early stages of efforts to end their year long dispute and result in a possible coalition government which is united on basic goals of achieving peace with Israel. On June 6, President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority indicated a willingness to work with Hamas and his words were welcomed in the Gaza Strip which is the center of Hamas power. A few dozen Hamas activists held in Fatah jails have been released and names of all those held by Hamas and Fatah are being gathered in order to work out their release from jail.

There is some talk of a national coalition government composed of technocrats and independents who would run things until elections were held for a new legislature and president of the Palestinian Authority. These changes raise issues for Israel which has refused to recognize Hamas, but, apparently is willing to hammer out a cease fire in Gaza with the group. Most experts believe a Palestinian government wants Israel to accept its 1967 border, allow East Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine, and work out some resolution of the refugee question. The good news is there are fewer demands for return of all refugees.

Berlin Conference For Palestinians Does Little

The Berlin Conference of Palestinian Civil Security was attended by 40 nations meeting in Berlin for the ostensible purpose of raising money to assist in development of the justice and police infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority. There were the usual speeches, promises made, complaints, charges, and counter-charges, and, in the end, about $242 million was raised to be used over a three year period. In other words, in simple English, this means about $80 to develop an effective police and judicial structure in a nation that as of yet does not exist. Chancellor Merkel was present as was Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livini and Condi Rice and former prime minister Tony Blair who is doing something to bring about peace in the Middle East. Exactly what he is doing is rather unclear at this moment.

The Berliner Zeitung summed up the real issues, ones that were never addressed at this conference by noting, “that building Palestinian state structure can only occur.. when a border with Israel has been determined, and when the refugee problem has been resolved.”

These meetings undoubtedly are needed. They are least demonstrate there is some concern about the Palestine-Israel conflict, but after a half century, it ca n also produce cynicism.

Al Awda Convention Urges Palestinian Return

The Sixth International Al-Awda conference was held in California as Palestians spoke of their intention of returning to Palestine. ‘Palestine is and will be Arab until the Day of Judgement. Occupations come and go but Palestine perevered and maintained the Arab-ness. Plstinian cities will remain forever Arab.”Speakers denounced Israel and said there was but one goal and that was a return to Palestine. Bishop Atallah Hanna compared his God, who is one of peace, in contrast to the justifications that Zionists use which are “stantic and have nothing to do with God.”

The overwhelming majority of speakers insisted all Arab refugees had to be allowed back into Palestine and there could only be one state in which the majority–Arabs– would decide who is in charge. The non-ceasing rhetoric led Salman Abu Sitta to term Gaza the “new Auschwitz” while Abu Khalil, professor of political science at California State University, noted that “after 60 years, we should be aware how Zionism has its tentacles through Arab media and government.”

The one tragedy not discussed at the convention was the inability of Palestinian leaders to approach the current situation with a focus on solutions rather than on pandering to one another with the rhetoric of failure. The Palestinian people need an independent nation, they need leaders who will create a vibrant political democracy as well as draw upon the talents of so many bright humans. Instead there is nothing but hatred, and a complete lack of any sense of reality.

I have always advocated there must be compromise on the part of all sides, and compromises deal with the present reality, not what happened in the past. Step one is the evacuation of all West Bank settlements with existing housing being used for Palestinians who fled. Step two is renouncing violence as a means of attaining goals. Step three is creation of a new “Marshall Plan” for the Middle East which would bring all nations together in a peaceful approach that would transform the Middle East into a new economic giant. Step four is creating academic organizations which can help all sides end the hatred that is taught children and replace it with common sense, historical accuracy, and a desire for peace.

Not all Palestinians will be able to return. Neither will Jews who had to flee Arab nations due to persecution in the 1940s and 1950s. I suspect not a word was mentioned at the conference about North Africans Jews who fled or those who left Iraq and Yemen.

French Foreign Minister Critical Of Israeli Settlements

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner speaking in Bethlehem at the investors conference for Palestinian aid, made clear his nation’s opposition to current Israel efforts on the West Bank. He was particularly critical of West Bank settlement expansion. “Nothing justifies the settlement expansion which constitutes an impediment to peace as well as an obstacle obstructing the development of the Palestinian economy.” He also urged the Israel government to re-evaluate its current program of road blocks and interference with the right of movement of Palestinians. He said, Israel should and can exert more effots to (ease the restrictions) without endangering security.” The three day conference is designed to revive the Palestinian econonomy which has virtually collapsed due, in many ways, to Israeli restrictions on the free movement of people and goods.

Naturally, the Israel government claimed it was doing everything within its power to assist the development of the Palestinian economy and was working to “create greater movement and access for Palestinians while maintaining security,” according to Mark
Regev who spoke for Prime Minister Olmert.

Kouchner is absolutely correct in raising the issue of West Bank settlements which have been going on for over twenty years and which increasingly make difficult any Israel agreement with Palestinian leaders. As settlements increase, the sense of Israel permanency in what was supposed to be a Palestinian area makes for difficulty in reaching an agreement unless Palestinian leaders surrender land that was rightfully part of a Palestinian nation.

EU Urges Turkey Host Palestine Meeting

The situation in Gaza gets worse with each passing days and now Hamas is initiating suicide attacks that will only exacerbate problems. The European Union urged Turkish leaders to assume leadership in bringing together warring factions in the Israel-Palestine conflict. State Minister Kurgad Tuzmen said he was approached by an EU envoy and asked to osst such a meeting. Tuzmen responsed: “Such inititiatives should not be romantic.” Turkey is in the unusual position of having excellent relations with all sides in the conflict, particularly with Israel with whom its economic and military relations are very solid.

This blog for months has been urging such a mediator role for Turkey. Most Palestinians have lost confidence in the Bush administration and certainly have no confidence in former prime minister Tony Blair as a mediator. It is time for a fresh start with a nation that gets along with all sides. A successful Turkish effort in helping to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict would enhance its chances for entry into the European Union.