Tag Archives: Palestinians

Rice Visit To Israel-Much Ado About Nothing

Nine months have passed since President Bush and Secretary of State Condi Rice convened a meeting at Annapolis which allegedly was supposed to hammer out a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Words were spoken, meetings held in which both sides postured and planted invisible lines in the sand beyond which they would not go, and, in the end, as all political analysts predicted, nothing was ever accomplished. Secretary of State Rice is once again winging her way to Jerusalem in hope of getting some sort of agreement so the Bush administration, prior to leaving office, can claim credit for some sort of Middle Eastern agreement. Both sides have significant differing views about Jerusalem and the West Bank which relate to the final boundary lines of a Palestinian state.
John McCain would love going into the campaign being able to tell Jewish voters the Republican party accomplished something in the way of dealing with Israel’s problems.

The reality is Prime Minister Olmert is stepping down under a cloud of suspicion about dealing with charges of corruption. Foreign Minister Livni, who hopes to succeed him, is in no way ready to grant anything substantive to the Palestinians while she strives to become the new prime minister, and President Abbas is determined to obtain certain goals related to the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Rice is under heavy attack for her inept performance in the Georgia crisis where she came across as lost and without any sensible ideas. She wants some figment of success before she heads home. Unfortunately, Rice will leave Jerusalem as she arrived — no deal.

Palestinian Leader: Time Running Out For Peace

Sari Nusseibeh, the highly respected president of Al-Quds University, told an Haaretz reporter that time to achieve a viable two nation solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is running out. He derided the latest Olmert offer which called for Israel to annex 7% of the West Bank while giving Palestinians some desert land in the Negev as compensation. Nusseibeh argues moderate Palestinian leaders for twenty years have been trying to persuade their people to accept a state based on 1967 lines while Israel has been doing everything possible to destroy that possibility. “You cannot negotiate anything about that status if you don’t talk about Jerusalem. Final status consists primarily, I believe, of Jerusalem and refugees. If you want to postpone Jerusalem, you postpone refugees. Really, you are not dealing with the problem. You have to discuss these issues and that is exactly where the trade-off has to be made.”

He insisted he still wants a two state solution, but if Israel refuses to enter into serious discussions about issues such as the refugee return or the status of Jerusalem, “you start to think about what the alternatives are.” The university president believes Israel must become realistic and recognize that east Jerusalem has to be the capital of a new state of Palestine. “The ideology that Fatah has adopted over the last 15 years– a two state solution– seems to be faltering and with it Fatah is faltering. So, it is time maybe to rethink, to bring Fatah around to a new idea, the old-new idea of one state.”

Nusseibeh is convinced unless there is a breakthrough by the end of this year, many Palestinian leaders like himself will simply walk away from the two state concept and opt to become part of Israel. If that occurs, the worse nightmare for Jews will come true. In fifty years a majority of people living in Israel will be Muslims.

Israel Nightmare– A Binational Sate?

The Israel government has been playing the West Bank card for years using the argument it must be settled in order to provide their nation a barrier against attack. In adopting this stance, Israel has presented Palestinians with a dilemma, if they accept the loss of a good part of the West Bank, the Palestinian state that will emerge lacks coherence. Senior Palestinian negotiator, Ahmed Qurela, said if Israel continues being stubborn and refuses to evacuate the West Bank and restore 1967 boundaries, the Palestinians will simply abandon their desire for an independent nation and become part of Israel. “If Israel continues to oppose making this(a Palestinian state) a reality, then the Palestinian people and its leadership (would be) one state, a binational state.”

Given the higher birth rate among Palestinians, it would take one, or at the most two generations, for the state of Israel to contain a population in which Muslims were the majority. Somehow, one doubts this is the end goal of the people of Israel. During the 1930s, many Jewish leaders discussed with Arabs the concept of a binational state and eventually abandoned the idea due to fears Jews would become a minority. Is it time for Israel to accept the reality of 1967 borders or gamble on what will happen in a binational state?

Is Bush Good For Israel?

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet the administration of George Bush is “especially friendly” to the people of Israel. He told them Israel could not be certain the next American administration would be as supportive as that of Bush so it is necessary to take actions now in order to protect against any future possibility. “Therefore the element of time hold special importance(because things won’[t necessarily be the same) with the next government.” After all, pointed out the prime minister, “we don’t know what will happen with the next U.S. government.” However, he stated his belief any American president will “preserve the special friendship” with Israel.

Many neo-conservatives have argued George Bush has been a friend to Israel. Has he? Is Israel in 2008 more or less secure than what it was in January, 2001? The evidence is overwhelming most Israelis feel more insecure over the past few years. The Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq has also been a disaster for Israel by creating new powerful militant organizations. Bush encouraged Israel to follow its misguided no talk with Hamas which has only worsened the situation. Perhaps, neo-conservatives can provide evidence George Bush has improved the security of Israel and its chances to negotiate peace with Palestinians. This blog can not find any such evidence. The best thing any American president can do to assist Israel become more secure is to encourage genuine compromise and ceasing further construction in the West Bank or in E. Jerusalem.

US Proposes Helping Israel-Palestinians To Get Peace!

The Bush administration, whose record on creating one problem after another in the Middle East and never successfully resolving any of them, offered to assist Israel and the Palestinians to get back to the business of working out an agreement. Secretary Rice supposedly presented this offer to Prime Minister Olmert during his recent Washington D.C. visit. She suggested Americans could sit in on negotiations in order to facilitate the
process. Chief Palestinian negotiator, Ahmed Qureia, said both sides did agree on beginning the process of laying out their ideas on key issues.

The bottom line is both sides fundamentally differ on West Bank and East Jerusalem housing construction, borders, security and return of the refugees. At this point, Israel holds the stronger hand and it incumbent upon its leaders to take the initial step of backing down, at least somewhat, on key issues.

Meanwhile, in a minor issue, eight left wing activists protested against the separation fence. Perhaps, as a gesture of compromise, Israel could begin making it easier for Arabs to move around the West Bank without continually encountering check points.

A Speech President Bush Could Have Given In Knesset

Following is the speech George Bush could have presented in the Israel Knesset if he was concerned about the security of Israel and its neighbors.

I am happy to be present on this momentous day which celebrates the 60th birthday of Israel as an independent nation. The people of Israel–Jews, Muslims, and Christians– are a beachhead of democracy in the region. I come as a friend, and, as a friend, it is important that I offer advice since I care about the future of this nation. The nation of Israel is isolated in the Middle East and must address those issues which have led to the current situation of being cut off from other countries in the area.

Let me begin by admitting that I made a mistake in supporting a policy of no negotiation with groups and nations with whom I disagree. The policy of refusing to negotiate has failed. Over thirty years ago, President Richard Nixon, who had supported for years a polcy of having no interactions with the government of Communist China, admitted his policy had failed. He initiated a dialogue with the Chinese Communist government whose leader, Mao Tse-tung had most probably killed 25 million people and was undoubtedly a terrorist in the truest sense of the word. Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, talked with and worked out agreements with their hated rival. We know that policy proved productive to the cause of peace in Asia and the slow, but steady, growth of democracy in China.

It is time to end policies of silence since they don’t work. Every American president from Truman to Reagan negotiated with Soviet Communist leaders despite the fact those individuals were dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism and supported terrorist groups in the world. Dialogue and negotiation maintained peace in the area. It is time to reach out to Hamas and Hizbullah and work with the Palestinian Authority led by President Abbas in order to create the basis for peace in the region. We must engage Syria and Iran as part of a new dialogue for peace.

I urge involving the talents and expertise of important world figures such as the UN Secretary General and individuals like Nelson Mandela. I suggest the Palestinian Authority ask the governmnt of Turkey to dispatch troops to the Gaza area who would ensure the non-importantion of military weapons and work to end rocket attacks on Israel. It is time for Israel to accept the Hamas offer of a cease fire and allow Turkish toops to enforce it. This could be a positive first step in the beginning of a new dialogue for peace.

After the end of World War II, the United States and European nations, worked under th auspices of the Marshall Plan to create the basis for economic cooperation and an end to traditional hatreds. Although, Germany had killed over thirty million Europeans, it’s leaders were welcomed as partners. I propose creation of a new version of the Marshall Plan which would bring together all nations of the Middle East. The plan would be funded initially at the rate of $25 billion a year. This plan would require Middle Eastern Arab nations to work in a cooperative modality to develop an economic plan which would rejuvenate the entire region. All plans would have to be agreed upon both by Israel and Arab nations. A condition of the plan would be that all members cease military support or action against fellow members.

I also call for the creation of a new university that would be funded by the Billy Gates Foundation and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This Middle Eastern University would be open to students from all nations, it would be free, and its task would be to create a new generation of Middle Eastern young people who are dedicated to peace in the region. The MEU would bring together the best minds in the fields of science, technology, medicine, and the liberal arts who would work on a transnational basis to ensure peace and prosperity in the region.

The time has come to cease using outworn expressions such as “appeasement” when discussing peace. We can no longer afford to pursue the path of isolation. We need Iran and Syria actively engaged in the fight for peace and prosperity. I recognize what I propose will frighten many people in Israel as well as Muslims. The road of isolation leads only to isolation. Peace entails risks but the alternative is continuance of the current policy of non-enagement which has only increased the risk of violence. The road to peace begins with a first step. The first step is ending the current situation in Gaza that both endangers Muslims as well as Israelis. Hopefully, after the first step, there will be a more active movement towards peace.

Turkish PM Erdogan Mediates In Middle East

The presidency of George Bush has virtually lost all credibility in the Middle East due to its blatant one-sided support for Israel. Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, of Turkey, is attempting to step into the American vacuum of power by presenting himself as a neutral mediator who has the respect and confidence of both Israel and Palestinians. He is currently working to establish dialogue between Israel and Syria and might be able to expand his role to embrace a broader agenda dealing with Middle Eastern peace. Israel has close ties with Turkey, and, since Erdogan represents an Islamic party, he has the ability to reach out to diverse Muslim groups in the region as an indvidual who will not enter negotiations with a set agenda but is willing to encourage compromise.

Anaka might be uniquely quality by dint of its acceptability to key players in the region to jump start the Israel-Palestinian negotiations. Israel political leaders trust Erdogan and might be willing to participate in discussions with Hamas if such talks were organized by the Turkish prime minister.

Perhaps, it is time for Condi Rice and Bush to step down and allow Turkey to step up in assuming leadership in the Middle East.

Is Israel Defense Minister Barak Interested In Peace?

Mohammed Shehada, head of the Islamic Jihad’s military wing and four associates were told by Egyptian mediators that a truce was now in effect and they could safely return to their homes in Bethlehem which recently had been bulldozed into rubble by the Israel military. As they left the scene, all five were killed in a hail of bullets from members of a special unit of the Israel army. Tens of thousands of Palestinians attended funerals of the men in scenes of anger and mourning that were shown all over the Middle East. Saleh Al-Naam, writing in al -Ahram, raises the question as to whether Israel is committed to the roadmap to peace or is it pursuing its own political and personal policies toward Palestinians.

He regards Defence Minister Ehud Barak as central to efforts to destroy peace efforts and quotes a recent statement: “Israel is committed to pursuing Palestinian resistance fighters who have been nvolved in opertions” that result in death to Israelis. Deputy Defense Minister Amos Harel insists “We will not allow the Palestinians to determine for us the timing, location or conditions of security operations.” Al Naami charges there is a deliberate program in effect by some members of the Israel government to destroy peace efforts in order to find justification for continued construction of housing on the West Bank as well as hoping chaos only results in continued division among Palestinians. He quotes Israel intellelctual Gideon Levy who recently wrote in Haaretz: “Barak hasn’t talked about peace for a long time and he surely doesn’t believe in the peaceful efforts of Olmert. In fact, he does all he can to destroy what little remains of them.”

Among the most important steps Prime Minister Olmert can make in the peace process is firing Barak and placing the Defence Ministry under control of someone who is committed to peace. Barak operates on the assumption Israel should retain the power to make unilateral determinations as to how the peace process will unfold. If a truce has been arranged it must include ceasing of military operations by all parties, not just one.

Palestinians–We Don’t Trust Anyone!

New surveys of Palestinian attitudes toward their leaders revealed deep seated mistrust of either Hamas or Fatah. Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah organization received the endorsement of 39% of Palestinians, down from the 46% who had that feeling in November. Only 16% had a favorable attitude toward Hamas and as far as 41% think, a plague on both your houses! There is widespread dissatisfaction with leadership in Palestine and people are seeking honest government that will address their needs rather than play to the grandstand of rhetoric. A majority of those surveyed supported peace moves, but, they simply did not trust the current crop of leaders to actually make peace happen.

The Hamas figure is interesting, given that it probably was influenced by Israel bombings in Gaza. Most probably close to 12% of Palestinians actually endorse Hamas as an effective leadership group. The tragedy of the Palestinian movement from day one has been its inability to bring forth a statesman who could bring together divergent factions and work on a genuine compromise solution with Israel. Instead, Palestinians have been led by the corrupt and incompetent Arafat and today by an ineffective Abbas. Is there anyone around who can step up and exert effective leadership?

Hamas Rockets Hit Israel- Israel Hits Hamas

Hamas rockets continued hitting targets in Israel resulting in operations by the Israel Defense Force to launch air and ground assaults against Hamas militants. Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that “Israel must brace itself for Jihad’s response” while Hamas leaders warned of a “wave of martyrdom operations” against Israel targets. The current approach to dealing with Hamas and the approach used by Hamas to deal with its hostility toward Israel consists of attacks and counter attacks. Neither side can point to any real success other than citing the number killed or the destruction caused by bombing. It is seemingly a tit for tat approach that simply is not getting at real issues such as how to resolve Palestinian and Israel disagreements. One obvious casualty in the seemingly nonstop attack/counterattack is the road map for peace that supposedly was to emerge from the Annapolis conference.

Albert Einstein supposedly once said the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again without any apparent change resulting from these actions. The Hamas/IDF exchange offers no apparent benefits for either side. A mistake at Annapolis was not inviting Hamas. The Hamas leaders would not have been able to engage in their violent rhetoric when in the company of the Arab world that seeks an end to the Palestinian/israel conflict. Negotiations in which important Arab nations– who also help support Hamas–insist on an end to violence is the best bet to set in motion concrete steps to halt the rocket bombing and counter attacks. One might argue that it is impossible to negotiate with those who practice violence. However, both Israeli and Palestinians who are currently engaged in negotiations were at one point in their pasts using violence to achieve end goals. There is need for Arab leaders to join with Palestinians and Israelis in getting Hamas to the negotiating table if there is to be an end to the Gaza violence. Escalation of the violence will only doom any opportunity for peace.