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.
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.
Posted in Human Rights, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Military, Muslims, Peace, Politics, US Foreign Policy, War, World News
Tagged Barak, Israel, Olmert, Palestinians
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.
Posted in Human Rights, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Military, Multicultural, Muslims, Peace, Politics, War, World News
Tagged Gaza, Hamas, IDF, Palestinians, rocket attacks, violence