Thursday, January 31, 2008

Punishing Gaza Only Harms Those Backing Peace

Poor Gaza, once the most moderate of Palestinian regions - where the women wore bikinis and the men drank whisky - has been transformed into the most radical. For why? This - sent us by ATFP - provides one take on the situation:

A Daily Star (Lebanon) opinion by Daoud Kuttab, published in collaboration with Project Syndicate, analyzes how the collective punishment of Gaza's population weakens the moderate majority and strengthens the extremist minority:

By Daoud Kuttab
In The Daily Star (Lebanon), Opinion
January 30, 2008
When the Gaza Strip was plunged into darkness last week as a result of the Israeli fuel blockade, many people around the world were surprised. But the optimism produced by the Annapolis peace process, which included President George W. Bush's promise of an agreement in 2008 to create a Palestinian state, was clearly unrealistic.

Gaza is usually viewed in terms of Hamas' overwhelming support there, but the reality is much different. Opinion polls conducted in Gaza by the Near East Consulting Group in late November 2007 indicated 74 percent popular support for a peace agreement with Israel. Only 15 percent would vote for Hamas parliamentarians or a Hamas presidential candidate, compared to 55 percent for Fatah candidates. The Annapolis-inspired peace process received 81 percent support.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

One hour before it's dark

Now here's a thing - this from Eyyad Seraj in Gaza - and would that be possible do you think? He has an interesting angle:

Israeli military establishment decided to stop power supply and fuel to Gaza. Since Thursday, food and huminitarian aid are not allowed in. Very soon life will come to a standstill. Water will not be pumped for a even drink. My step son is on ventilator for asthma every night. What will happen to him when our generator is not running any more? What will happen to hospitals, vaccines and blood banks? What will happen to patients on dialysis machines, and to babies in incubators?

Before it is dark and when there is no communication with the world, I want to tell you that current Israeli policy of squeezing on has the aim of pushing Egypt to open its borders with Gaza and bring the situation to prior 1967. Israel will then close its borders with Gaza, separates the Strip from the West bank and destroys the peace proposals of one state or two states. In short Israel is fulfilling the Sharon unilateral withdrawal strategy. If Egypt fails to open its borders with Gaza, Israel will push us through Rafah towards the Sinai desert. Wait for the exodus.

Eyad El Sarraj

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Hezbollah has Israel 'body parts'

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah says his armed group has body parts of Israeli soldiers abandoned in Lebanon during the 2006 conflict.

He said they had the "heads, the hands, the feet and even a nearly intact cadaver" in a speech marking his first public appearance in more than a year.

Full Story

Thursday, January 17, 2008

'There is no end to the rocket fire'

An woman is treated for her wounds sustained during a Kassam attack in Sderot on Tuesday.  50 rockets yesterday, already 13 as of 10 o' clock today.
Photo: AP
From JPost. com

Fatigue and a shower meant Hadas Inataev was out of harm's way when a rocket struck her neighbor's back yard on Wednesday evening and left her kitchen window scattered across her floor.

An hour later, the Sderot resident sat trembling in her living room.

"We don't even have a safe-room in the house," the diminutive mother of four told The Jerusalem Post.

Sometimes when she hears the warning sirens, she cowers in her kitchen doorway. There is a bomb shelter nearby, but it is one of the 18 of the town's 58 shelters that are locked because they are not up to standard.

"So we look for the safest spot in the house," Inataev said.

On Wednesday, she headed for the shower at the same time that a Kassam barrage hit the town.

Twenty-five percent of parents opted not to send their children to school.

Tycoon Arkadi Gaydamak paid for 110 teens to stay at a guest house near Jerusalem until the end of the week. Among those who left was Inataev's 17-year-old son.

She herself was determined to ignore the sirens in favor of a shower.

"I told myself that if a rocket falls on the house, at least I'll die clean," she said, a weak smile crossing her face.

Once she finished in the bathroom, her husband needled her about making dinner before he went to work in a nearby factory.

She told him she preferred to sit on the sofa with their eight-year old son for a few minutes.

That's when another siren rang out, followed by a loud noise.

"I thought a rocket hit the house. I wanted to hold my son. I reached out to grab him, when the force of the blast pushed us to the floor," she said.

Now, she said, he is too scared to sleep at home, so she sent him to spend the night at her brother's.

"My entire body hurt from fear and from the fall," she said.

Click here to read on

Friday, January 04, 2008

Seriouser and Seriouser

Interstingly this follows a visit by Khalid Mishal - and rumours of the coming release of Marwan Barghouti. Do we have Palestine-Palestine peace on the horizon - the must have precursor to any credible peace process?

Agence France-Presse - 04 January, 2008
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will visit Saudi Arabia on Saturday for talks on the situation in the Palestinian territories ahead of US President George W. Bush's trip to the region, the Palestinian ambassador in Riyadh said on Thursday. Abbas will also brief King Abdullah and other Saudi officials on the status of talks with Israel, "which have not yielded results because of Israel's ongoing settlement policy and procrastination," Jamal al-Shobaki told AFP.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Bush's Gordian knot

Seems Bush is serious - even heading for Palestine - so game on. Rafi Dajani of ATFP sends this: In the Middle East Times, editor Claude Salhani examines the challenges facing President Bush as he attempts to bring about a resolution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict in the final year of his presidency.

U.S. President George W. Bush is about to embark on a tour of several Middle Eastern countries starting next week as his presidency rounds the corner heading for the final stretch of its second and final term at the White House.
The president will travel to Israel, the West Bank, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt over a period of eight days starting Jan. 8.
Bush, who started out his presidency wanting largely to ignore the Middle East and its perpetual conflicts, found himself dragged into the crux of the Arab-Israeli dispute despite his initial intention of staying well away from a problem of Gordian proportion. If Alexander the Great is said to have circumvented the dilemma of the Gordian knot by using his sword to slice through the rope, thus eliminating the knot, Bush (wrongly) believed he could cut through the Gordian knot of Islamist-driven terrorism by invading Afghanistan and Iraq.