Tensions Remain Active In Middle East Amidst Bombings

Prime Minister Olmert made a special trip to meet Jordan’s King Abdullah to discuss the growing tensions created by rocket bomb attacks on Israel from Muslim militants and Israel bombing of Gaza Strip targets. King Abdullah urged Israel to stick to the Annapolis Conference road map and halt further building on the West Bank. He emphasized, “halt unilateral activities that may obstruct progress.” The Hamas authorities have done little to halt rocket attacks and as each side bombs, the other feels the need to retaliate. Israel is concerned that a recent rocket attack included a longer range Katyusha which landed in an Israel city. There is little doubt any further such bombings will result in a massive Israel response.

Up to this point, the Bush, Abbas, and Olmert approach has been to ignore Hamas as a peace factor. Hamas stands on the sideline creating problems by allowing rocket launches. One solution might be to involve Hamas in peace negotiations. At this point, since ignoring them has not changed anything, what is to be lost by trying another approach which actively engages the group in a peace process?