Israel Sends Mixed Signals On Desire For Peace With Palestinians

The government of Israel continues sending confusing signals to Palestinians and the world about its desires to establish permanent peace in the Middle East. Yesterday, Defense Minister Barak said Israel would begin cutting electricity supplies to Gaza for each rocket fired from the area, today Prime Minister Olmert told President Abbas his government has no intention of creating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Olmert also indicated he had uncertain feelings about the upcoming Annapolis peace conference. “If all goes well, we will meet in Annapolis, (but) Annapolis is not made to be the event for the declaration of peace.” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh claimed that Israel was using Annapolis as a cover to continue its policies of aggression against Palestinians.

Prime Minister Olmert continues to reflect his lack of grasp regarding how to proceed towards peace. He is unable to make concrete statements that reflect a commitment to peace, but obfuscates his intent by contradictory words. On one hand, his Defense Minister is openly stating a policy to cut electricity while Olmert says he is not attempting to create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. What does he expect to happen if hospitals and schools and homes lack electricity? Why is he going to Annapolis if he doesn’t wish to attain the best possible agreement leading to long term peace? Olmert has yet to clearly indicate his intentions at the Annapolis meeting except to say he is willing to talk. Palestinians and Israelis have been talking for over fifty years, when is the time “appropriate” for a final peace settlement? A recent story in the Jerusalem Post reflects the Israeli government’s confusion or incompetence. Wissam Abujwa, a student in environmental studies living in Gaza, has now been prevented from leaving Gaza by Israeli officials after being turned down for graduate work at a British university, a German university, and at the Avara Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura. He is being invited by a prominent Israeli institution to study the environment and Israel officials refuse to let it happen. What exactly do these incompetents expect Mr. Abujwa to feel or do in the future? By the way, 670 students are being barred from leaving Gaza to attend colleges in Europe or the Middle East.