Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Abbas: Peace In 2008 Or Never

So Abu Mazin sees it as peace now or never. Interestingly there's not much time left for peace on Abu Mazin's watch - he leaves with Bush given new Palestinian elections slated for January 2009. This article in which the Associated Press quotes Mahmoud Abbas saying 2008 may be the last chance for peace was sent in by Rafi Dajani of ATFP:

February 25, 2008: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged the US on Monday to make good on its promise to work for a Middle East peace settlement by the end of the year, warning that there would not be any future chances.
Abbas spoke following a closed door meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah in the Jordanian capital of Amman and warned that if the Bush administration didn't make good on its pledge to "make 2008 the year to broker peace, then there will never be any future chances to achieve this goal."
The Palestinians and Israelis are negotiating a final peace settlement, which the Bush administration hopes would lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state later this year.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Israel after Lebanon: warning siren, deaf ears

Interesting piece from OpenDemocracy:

Thomas O'Dwyer

An official report scorns the Israeli military and political elite's failures in the Lebanon war of 2006. Its reception suggests that the next war may be close, reports Thomas O'Dwyer. 15 - 02 - 2008

These are strange political times in Israel. This became clear to me on the day the official commission of inquiry into Israel's disastrous Lebanon war of July-August 2006 issued its report. It became the main topic of conversation in many unlikely places, including a reception for the opening of an Irish film festival in Tel Aviv attended by Ruth Dayan, the widow of the late General Moshe Dayan, the legendary hero of the six-day war of 1967. When I asked her if she thought the report would bring down the government, she replied: "I hope not. Who wants an election now? Let (prime minister Ehud) Olmert stay - if he goes, we will get something worse."

The Dayan family is regarded as a prominent part of Israel's old aristocracy of the left; Ehud Olmert, leader of the Kadima party, is a long-time stalwart of the right. This should have been a startling comment to hear from the likes of Ruth Dayan. But in these days of political angst and uncertainty in Israel, old attitudes are no longer a reliable guide to current political judgments.

The report from the Winograd commission (named after its head, retired judge Eliyahu Winograd, and released on 30 January 2008) may not exactly have seen the Israeli peace camp rallying to the support of Olmert (a man its members once roundly despised); but it has been shining a strobe-light on some classically wayward establishment gyrations that illuminate unexpected shifts in Israel's political landscape.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

At the Altar of Palestine

Mona el Tahawy won the International Media Council Award in London a year ago - but she remains controversial as ever. Moreso these days. This is her latest offering:

CAIRO -- After he scored a goal in a recent match against Sudan in the African Nations Cup, Egyptian soccer star Abou Trika lifted his jersey to show an undershirt inscribed with the message “Sympathize with Gaza”. His message earned him a yellow card for violating a no-politics rule but promptly crowned him the latest hero for Palestine.

While the plight of Gazans does indeed deserve concern, it was telling that Abou Trika’s t-shirt made no mention of sympathy for, say, Darfur, where some 200,000 have died in fighting between rebels and pro-government militias and 2.5 million driven from their homes. But it has been so for decades in the Arab world, where issue after issue is sacrificed at the altar of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Fayyad: No chance for peace in 2008

Another decade I reckon - 2018 rather than 2008 !

Reuters/Y-Net/Jerusalem Post - Palestinian prime minister says prospects of signing accords during President Bush`s remaining time in office bleak, cites Israeli failure to remove settlements as reason for setback in peace talks. A senior Ramallah official said that the Israeli team led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni lacks the authority to take decisive steps which would lead to formulating a draft final status agreement, and "was not demonstrating flexibility on any issue."


Friday, February 08, 2008

PA starting to abide by 'road map'

Rafi Dajani of ATFP sent this story:

Reuters highlights the views of Middle East envoy Tony Blair regarding the ‘road map’ and the recent progress made by the PA

The Quartet's Middle East envoy Tony Blair said Thursday that Palestinian security forces had significantly improved and were starting to carry out their part in the long-stalled "road map" peace plan. The former British prime minister, now the envoy for the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators which include the European Union, the United States, Russia and the United Nations, urged Israel to respond by easing travel and trade restrictions imposed on the Palestinians in the West Bank.

Friday, February 01, 2008

George Habash dies

One of the most famous Palestinian resistance fighters of all time has died. Dr George Habash (1925 - 2008) was widely regarded as a a key Palestinian militant leader. He founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The PFLP is one of the smallest of the all the Palestinian groups but one of the most influential. The PFLP is extremist and radical but has attracted many intellectuals - particularly university people - which accounts for its power. Many PFLP people were strongly anti-Arafat and anti the corrupt old guard of Fatah which dominate Palestinian politics today - another reason for the popularity of this very extreme group.