Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Dates Of Wrath

Obviously Israel's recent incursion into Rafah, and consequently the end of the 5 month ceasefire, was a pretty bad piece of news. However, since William has already commented on this, I shall draw your attention to recent British moves to correct European law regarding imports from Israel. Essentially, Israel has a deal with the EU concerning its imports, whereby lower tariffs are placed on them than most non-EU nations. However, these were only supposed to be products from within the green line, and there have been allegations that some of these (including dates and wine) are the produce of West Bank settlements.

This links up with another row over supermarket displays advertising products (such as, again, dates) as the produce of Israel. Even goods which are labelled as "West Bank" could still be from settlements and therefore no informed ethical consuming can take place from this knowledge alone. Thus, British attempts to get these correctly labelled are part of a wider attempt to reduce the economic power of the settlements - described by the government as "are illegal obstacle to peace". Haaretz has described this British objection as using a mere "technicality" in the trade treaty. This is ludicrous as the government of Israel agreed to the "Green Line" rather than any other borders. Israeli businesses know they are in the wrong and attempt to hide the fact by creating headquarters in Jerusalem for operations which in fact utilise land outside of that which is allowed by the mutually agreed treaty.

This is a small matter that may in fact set an important precedent in trade relations between the EU and Israel, and for West Bank settlements . We should hope that the letter of the law is observed for, as the saying of one supermarketgoes, every little helps.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Gaza Troubles

After five months the Gaza cease fire is over. It was inevitable I guess but very sad. Israel decided it had had enough and wanted to go back to war. But when you consider that Ismail Haniyah has recognised Israel within its 67 borders on behalf of Hamas it seems such a shame that we can't see some better progress.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sheikh Jarar eviction

Further to Alexander's blog below, this seems to be becoming a habit. Now an Arab family evicted in Sheikh Jarar. But to be honest there are worse crimes. The Gaza seige is collective punishment. But there is muh less fuss made about that.

Sheikh Jarar eviction

Thursday, November 06, 2008


The Middle-East peace process appears to be, as so often seems the case, in a state of arrest. The comparative calm of the five month truce was recently violated by both sides. Four Palestinian-owned buildings in East Jerusalem were demolished in one day by order of the Israeli governent. However, a development that may prove to have a more harmful effect on the procss is Tzipi Livni's failure to form a governing coalition. Unwilling to cave in to unreasonable demands from minor parties, she has asked Presiden Shimon Peres to call early elections. She trails Benjamin Netanyahu in the polls and, if successful, his administration could prove disastrous for the peace process. Ehud Olmert announced in July that it was his intention not to stand in September's elections. Since the new polls caused by Livni's coalition failure are scheduled for February 2009, and an effective government may not be formed until even later, due to wrangling over coalitions, Israel will have been under a lame duck leadership for six months!

This power vacuum is complemented by the period of transition that America is currently going through. While this can be a useful time for a President-Elect to form a strong cabinet, ultimately it is an error in the US Constitution that was only partly cleaned up when the inauguration date was moved back from March to January after the disastrous interregnum between Presidents Hoover and F.D. Roosevelt. George W. Bush, and many in his administration, desperately want to create peace between the Palestinians and Israelis before January 20th, and thereby repair his already tattered legacy. With the great expectation surrounding Barrack Obama's Presidential election victory, it is probably more sensible to hope that the tentative ceasefire can be reasonably well maintained until his inuaguration. Condaleeza Rice et al can do little to affect the situation and we should trust that Bush exercises his power, now unbridled by party loyalty or election worries, sparingly. Little can be done until all sides have resolved their internal struggles and electoral processes.