Tag Archives: Palestinian Authority

Is “Victory” In Gaza A “Defeat” For Israel?

Israel’s armed forces move relentlessly through the streets of Gaza blasting and killing anyone or obstacle in their way hoping the operation will ensure their nation has achieved “peace.” In the wake of the IDF lies the bodies of hundreds of innocent men, women, and children whose safety and security was deemed of lesser importance than the security of Israeli soldiers. President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority understands more than any Israeli official the folly of the war in Gaza which, in effect, has done incredible damage to moderate Palestinians by making them come across as ineffectual and “cowards” who take second place to the “brave members of Hamas.” The Israel government in one horrible explosion of hate and anger has given Hamas power and prestige in the entire Arab world.

The Palestinian Authority representative at the UN, Riyad Mansour accused Israel of war crimes and demanded the UN dispatch troops, if necessary, to ensure there is peace in Gaza. “The current situation is untenable and cannot be allowed to continue.” His government is desperately trying to do something to end killing in Gaza before the entire Palestinian nation shifts over to support for Hamas. Mansour accused Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of pretending to be interested in a diplomatic solution but using time in order to allow the IDF to continue its operations of death and destruction.

There is no question the IDF invasion reduced the possibility of rocket attacks on Israel, but at what price was this “victory” achieved? A major problem of Israeli leadership is seeking short term solutions rather than grasping the need for a permanent solution that ensures peace for their nation. What if there is an election and Hamas wins in both Gaza and the West Bank? What then, Israel? An invasion of the West Bank?

EU May Offer Assistance To Palestinian Authority

President Sarkozy, who currently leads the European Union, is considering the possibility of providing assistance to Palestinian Authority police and security personnel. He is concerned at the lack of professional capability of Palestinian forces and their inability to work in a close nd collaborative manner with Israel security. “The idea of an international force in the (Palestinian) territories and not only in Gaza is in the air for the medium or long term, in the framework of (the conflict)” said an EU source.

There is need to professionalize Palestinian security forces not merely to assist them in dealing with Israel but in the ongoing conflict with Hamas in the Gaza strip. To achieve such a goal entails new equipment and staffing because without improved weapons, no security force is going to be capable of dealing with Hamas.

Palestinian Authority Considers Statehood

The Palestinian Authority is considering cutting off its diplomatic contacts with Israel and unilaterally declaring its statehood, the Arabic language a-Sharq al-Awsef reported on Friday. A Palestinian official told the newspaper, “in light of the crisis we have encountered in talks with Israel, the Authority is testing a number of options.” A determining factor in what President Abbas will do is determined by the trilateral talks that will be held in Washington D.C. next week. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insists there can be peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority within the coming months.

A major hindrance to attaining peace is the continued policy of Israel to build settlements in the West Bank which are in clear violation of agreements. The decision of the Israel government last week to build a new settlement was a deliberate provocation that can only result in anger on the part of the Palestinian Authority.

A hopeful sign was the statement by Barack Obama in his interview with the Jerusalem Post in which he made critical remarks concerning West Bank settlements. The United States must oppose such policies which can only impair opportunities for peace in the Middle East.

Palestinian President Warns Israel!

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned Israel it must cease conducting raids for militants in West Bank cities or he will withdraw his police from all cities and allow the Israelis to inherit one more problem in dealing with Muslim inhabitants. He claimed the constant raids impeded progress toward a resolution of issues on the table of negotiation and emphasized the importance of allowing his police to handle criminal activity. Abbas recently deployed his forced in two of the unruliest towns, Nablus and Jenin, and residents feel safer due to their presence.

Abas has been meeting with Fatah legislators who insist he take action to demonstrate to the population the strength of the Palestinian Authority. In response to these demands, Abbas issued the warning to Israeli officials. Abbas is confronting a series of Israeli actions such as continued building in the West Bank, roadblocks and daily incursion into Palestinian cities by Israeli forces. Either Israel allows Abbas to demonstrate his ability to enforce law and order or the task will be turned back to Israel. Is that what the Israeli government desires?

Israel-Palestinians Clash Over West Bank Settlements

President Bush has boasted for years of his determation to bring about an Israel-Palestinian peace that will bring tog ether the two groups. It is now in the twilight of the Bush adminisration and anger and conflcit between the two bodies has reached new levels of intensity. Israel has suspended payment of the monthly $75 milliion tax collection that is due the Palestinian Authority. The Israel government is furious at the Palestinian Authority for urging the European Union to takea action against Israel for the breaking of agreements on housing constrction on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told the EU that Israel refuses to halt housing construction and in so doing makes impossible any two-state solution in the region.

The Israel government charges Sayyad is trying “to undermine” its relations with the European Union while Fayyad clams Israel has “flouted its international obligations.” The disgust and anger of President Abbas at continued housing is reflected by his reaching out to Hamas for a new national dialogue to bring togethe the two groups.

The Israel government continues its divisive actions in nonstp housing construction on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem which make impossible any future peace with Palestinians. It is no longer an issue of building for “security reasons” but one in which Israel refuses to make genuine efforts for peace. Is this the Bush legacy in the Middle East–refusing to adhere to international responsibilities?

Palestinians Say Israel Not Serious About Peace

A senior official in the Palestinian Authority told the Arab newspaper, Al Quds, that “final status talks between the Israel and Palestinian negotiating teams have reached a standstill due to Israel stubborness.” He feared Israel was not demonstrating sufficient flexibility and blamed it partially on the weak bargaining position of Israel Foreign Minister Livni. He noted: “Livni appears like someone who is incapable of taking any stance since she is worried about facing a backlash from government ministers who oppose the negotiations.” The Palestinian Authority Minister for Prisoner Affairs chimed in with complaints about blockades, checkpoints, and continuing settlements on the West Bank as factors hindering reaching any type of peace settlement.

Ironically, in Gaza, Hamas is now issuing warnings to Egypt and threatening to kidnap Egyptian soldiers unless their prisoners are relased by Egyptian authorities. Kassam rockets continue landing in Israel and it is merely a matter of time before the IDf invades Gaza. It is time for an international Muslim army to be sent into Gaza in order to restore peace. That, together with an Israel end of blockades, would allow Gaza to attempt an economic recovery. A Turkish-Moroccan armed force would be able to deal with Hamas in ways far different than faced by the IDF.

A second need is for someone of status to become part of the discussions between Israel and the PA. We suggest someone like Nelson Mandela who has experience in dealing with complex issues in which both parties harbor emotional anger.

Palestinian Authority Gloomy Over Peace Prospects

Palestinian Pime Minister Salaam Fayad expressed his pessimism concerning the possibility of achieving a peaceful resolution of the conflict with Israel any time in 2008. He blamed failure on the part of Israel to dismantle illegal West Bank settlements and the continuing Israeli military activities on the West Bank as undermining factors which impair movement towards peace. Fayad argues the continued presence of Israel soldiers on the West Bank makes it clear that Palestinian forces are not in charge. Israel Foreign Minister, Tzip Livni, insists the IDF has to deal with terrorist forces and until that is accomplished, they simply can not allow the creation of a Palestinian Authority.

Yesterday, another 22 Kassam rockets hit the Negev area. Israel and the Palestinian Authority continue dancing around the topic of where does Hamas fit into the peace equation. It is this failure which is fundamental to the eventual resolution of issues that damage movement towards peace. At some point, Hamas must become a player in the peace process.

Olmert And Abbas Work on Core Issues

Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams were instructed to focus on core issues such as Jerusalem, the refugees, and the contours of a future Palestinian state by Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. They want action and believe it must begin now. Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a member of the Olmert Cabinet, aid he would withdraw his party from the coalition government if discussions entailed core issues between the two groups. Olmert and Abbas met a day before the arrival of Bush in an apparent effort to offer the American leader some concrete news about progress on negotiations. Obviously, the security issue is central to resolution of the conflict and this continues to be a matter of debate. Secretary of State Rice told reporters from the Jerusalem Post that her administration opposes any further Israeli housing construction on either the West Bank or in east Jerusalem.

Both sides appear to be focusing on achieving some results rather than present President Bush with another explanation of why there is no progress. It is important Secretary of State Condi Rice made it clear to the Israel government that housing construction must cease on the West Bank and in east Jerusalem. On a hopeful note, nine Fatah gunmen surrendered to authorities and signed a pledge to cease any further attacks on Israelis.

Was Donor’s Conference An Exercise In Wishful Thinking?

The Palestinian Authority is euphoric about having more then $7 billion pledged at the Paris Donor Conference that would be used to rebuild the ravaged economy of the nation. However, there continues to be considerable skepticism as to whether this money alone is sufficient to get the Palestinian economy functioning or to ensure widespread public support for the leadership of President Abbas and Fatah. Economist Adel Samara dismisses hopes for genuine economic recovery while Palestinians live under Israel occupation. “It is akin to trying to breed fish in toxic water,” he noted alluding to restrictions by the Israeli army on free movement of individuals, goods and services within the West Bank and in Gaza. He charges Israel will only allow economic success if the Palestinian Authority agreed to give in on political considerations. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad underscored the grip Israel exerts on Palestinians when he noted; “The Palestinian economy is fully under the Israel occupation’s control. Israel controls all the borders and border crossings of the occupied Palestinian territories. Not a needle can get in or out of the West Bank without an Israeli consent.”

The 650 roadblocks inn the West Bank makes for difficulty in conducting normal economic activity. Money alone is not sufficient to quick start an economy in which goods can not readily get to market. The Israel government continues hoping economic pressure will result in political concessions. It is a Catch-22 situation, if the Palestinian Authority gives in politically to obtain economic freedom, it will lose political power which will only result in growth of Hamas which, in turn, will reduce the desire for political concessions. The other factor in the mix is the well known corruption that is part and parcel of the Fatah movement. At this point in time, Palestinians needs a government run by economists who have both economic and political power to transform the PA into a vibrant economy. Will Israel allow that to occur without first demanding political concessions?

Saudi Arabia And Syria Hesitant About Annapolis Conference

A group of Israel news reporters asked members of the Saudi Arabian delegation if there was any interest on the part of their nation at the upcoming Annapolis meeting to normalize relations with Israel, and they were told, “none.” The Saudi delegation wants no contact with Israel and will even enter the meetings via a separate door. Syria is attending the conference even though they were refused permission to place Israel possession of the Golan Heights as a topic for discussion. However, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqudad will be permitted to address the meeting. An editorial in the Syrian daily, Teshreen stated bluntly the only reason for attending was to deal with the immediate needs of the Palestinian people, and the Syrian delegation realized nothing would be done about their interests and needs. The Syrians believe Israel is trying to force normalization of relations without sensing a need to deal with Arab concerns.

There is no doubt many members of Arab nations are hesitant to attend the Annapolis conference, and a significant problem is failure on the part of its planners to get some prior agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority about concrete steps each party would take in the process of normalizing relations. The conference lacks a specific agenda items, it lacks a timetable to meeting those items, and it lacks a real sense among its participants that the dream of peace is what impels them to be present in Annapolis.