Monday, March 24, 2008

Hamas 'wrecking Mid-East peace'


US Vice-President Dick Cheney has said Palestinian militant group Hamas, along with Iran and Syria, is trying to torpedo the Middle East peace process.

Mr Cheney made the remarks after breakfast with Israeli PM Ehud Olmert, as he ended a tour of the Middle East.

He met Palestinian leaders on Sunday, saying both sides needed to make painful concessions to achieve peace.

A Palestinian state was long overdue, he said, but militant rocket attacks against Israel jeopardised this.

"There is evidence that Hamas is supported by Iran and Syria and they are doing everything they can to torpedo the peace process," Mr Cheney said.

He earlier gave Israel strong backing on security issues.

Full Story

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Amazing Grace

Anyone who wants to understand why a one state solution is unacceptable for almost all Israelis should read this item which comes in from Felix, who writes of this interview with the historian Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell, "A most moving and extraordinary story. Suggest you put this on your blog":

"I did not come to Israel to live in a binational state. If I had wanted to live as a minority, I could have chosen places in which it is both more pleasant and safer to live as a minority. But neither did I come to Israel to be a colonial ruler. In my eyes, nationalism that is not universalist, nationalism that does not respect the national rights of others, is a dangerous nationalism. That is why I think the time is pressing. We have no time. And what worries me is that the good life here and the money and the stock market and the homes at Manhattan prices are producing a terrible delusion. After all, it's clear that things cannot go on like this for another hundred years - I am not sure they can go on for another 10 years."


Saturday, March 15, 2008

News from Gaza

Sami Abdul Shafi writes from Gaza:

Gaza has been calm after the last violent cycle. The general public is anxiously awaiting prospects of a ceasefire agreement and the opening up of Gaza’s crossing points. Although I share that hope, I am not entirely confident that it will come about as comprehensively as people hope it would. In other words, relative calm may result but I fear that Israel will reserve the ability – and will act on it – to attack Gaza whenever it sees fit, and Palestinians will not be short of ways to slip into violent means against Israel. It is also worrying that the dynamics between the Ramallah government and the group in Gaza, in the context of the ceasefire talks, are not clear or are still missing. It cannot be that Egypt is brokering an agreement of some sort between Israel and the group in Gaza, while the active involvement of President Abbas seems absent. I fear that a ceasefire with Gaza, as opposed to Palestinians in all Palestinian territories, will further cement the separation between Gaza and the West Bank and East Jerusalem even if it offered temporary relief. In the meantime, Gaza has been out of gas (benzene) for weeks now. I walk to my meetings and sometimes take taxis if they are not short on diesel fuel. The list of missing or scarce goods is astonishingly long!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Giv'at Ze'ev

The Government of Japan has just issued a statement on renewed settlement building by Israel on the West Bank.

We at NCF have echoed their concern - most particularly with regard to renewed construction at Giv'at Ze'ev settlement.

We need an end to the cycle of bloodshed – which feeds on the construction of settlements just as it feeds on the killing of Israelis in Jerusalem, or the killing of Palestinians in Gaza.

The cycle of revenge and hatred continues to gain momentum and must now be broken.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Slaughter in Jerusalem

Re the terrible events in Jerusalem: We had two text messages from Gaza - from International Media Prize winner Sami Abdul Shafi, who wrote last night to say:

"Absolute craziness here. R u following the breaking news?" And then:
"I am not celebrating in Gaza - even though I see what poverty and desperation makes of an otherwise gentle people."

On the one hand, the Western policy of collective punishment is one that has rarely if ever been used to good effect. It failed with sanctions on Iraq, it is failing now with sanctions on Gaza.
On the other hand - the Middle Eastern tactic of the violent slaughter of civilians has also been a failure. Although it may seem to provide an avenue enabling the empowerment of powerless people, it is too blunt an instrument to use victoriously. Indeed this continued bludgeoning in the form of the killing of civilians has consequences that are as obscene as the original act. Atrocity breeds atrocity. The Moslems say, if you kill one man, it is as if you killed every man ever born - and if you save one man it is as if you save every man.

There are other ways. Passive resistance. Statesmanship. Dignity. But there is little dignity in today's Middle East, just pride - which is a quite different thing.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Israeli Minister Warns Palestinians Of ' Holocaust'

ATFP sends this item in which Reuters reports on the comments made by the Israeli Deputy Defense minister about a “bigger Holocaust” being visited upon Gaza by Israel due to the increased rocket attacks - Such an idiotic thing to say though. "Holocaust!". It is as if he likes the idea of the Palestinians calling the Jewish people "Nazis". Is the man utterly inept?

Deputy Israeli Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said on Friday the Palestinians would bring on themselves what he called a "bigger holocaust" by stepping up rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. "Holocaust" is a term rarely used in Israel outside discussions of the Nazi genocide during World War Two. Many Israelis are loathe to countenance using the word to describe other contemporary events.