Sunday, August 31, 2008

Not all is Bad in Gaza

Some things are improving in Gaza. See Sami Abdul Shafi's article on the link below. There is at least some semblance of security now Palestinian-Palestinian conflict is at an end. But there is growing concern amongst the people that Israel is not delivering on it's commitment under the terms of the cease-fire. Hamas says it will honour the cease-fire regardless. But last night I attended an Islamic Jihad rally. 800 armed men were on parade in Khan Younis. Afterwards I spoke to their leadership. They said that if Israel didn't lighten up on the closures as per their cease-fire commitment, Islamic Jihad would resume the rocket attacks. Personally I give it until the end of the year. If by then there is no significant easing of the restrictions on the importation of goods and raw materials into Gaza - we will end up back where we were.


Friday, August 29, 2008

The Gaza Peace Boats

Writing from Gaza the people were given an emotional lift by the two peace boats that came in from Cyprus. They left behind nine human rights workers in Gaza. It is important really because in the absence of any delivery of the Israeli side's commitment under the cease fire (30% of blockaded products to be allowed in during the first seven days) prospects for the continuation of the cease fire are at best fragile. Some argue that economic conditions were better in Gaza before the cease fire so there are those that argue it is pointless and that Israel only respects force. Difficult really. I don't really understand why Israel prefers the cease fire not to hold. But will have to hear the Israeli side when I get to Tel Aviv.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Remembering Jaweed Ghussein

Lord knows how many times we went back and forth to Gaza to beg for Jaweed's release. Adel wrote this obituary to the trusty old warrior. I notice he puts his eventual liberation down to the quartet which is scarcely - nor even even remotely - near the truth - but otherwise this is a very good account of the story of a great man. As I write this from Jerusalem I am reminded that it was Jaweed who first fought within the high council of the PLO to get agreement for Palestinians to vote in Jerusalem ballots. He failed (7 votes to 6) but that whole debate has resurfaced raised again by his nephew, Sari Nusseibah. What comes around goes around. Perhaps the PLO will be wiser this time.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Settlement building doubled

Israeli groups reported today that settlement activity has almost doubled in the past year. In Ramallah today, the mood amongst younger Fatah seems to be that Abu Mazin should abandon the current work on a "shelf agreement" until settlement activity is curbed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Abu Mazin hangs on by his Fingernails

Again from Jerusalem - There is a general feeling here that the "shelf" agreement the US is working on (meaning stick it on the shelf until it can be implemented but work out the details now) does not need to be completed under Bush but can be dragged out as long as they like. Presumably until 2010 when Abu Mazin can no longer use crafty strategies to dodge the elections and will have to at last go. But for whatever reason Israel continues to boost Abu Mazin as best it can in the interim. Hence yesterday's prisoner release which was a big deal for those poor souls concerned.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Beetles et al

Here in Jerusalem they all wait with baited breath for Paul McCartney to visit Tel Aviv. For which he gets a $2 million fee. Amazing eh? Other news - today is Gilad Shalit's birthday. Poor boy has been dropped down the Olmert priority days as the Premier considers his swan song. But Olmert hasn't the courage to deliver peace on Syria before he goes - despite the fact that draft memorandum of understanding has been agreed and leaked to Maariv (presumably with Syrian agreement).

And meanwhile the issue is who will succeed Olmert as head of Khadima. Leevni or Mofaz. The peace with Syria is dead if Mofaz gets it. We'll see. Should be Leevni but you never can tell.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Obama will win

Our poll asks who will be better for the Mid East. Obama or McCain. But one thing is certain - Obama will emerge the victor.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Israel to attack Syria?

Farid and the RPS sent us a note to say that a report published by the Kuwaiti daily al-Watan claims that the Syrians believe that Israel may attack Syria following Israel's latest maneuvers on the Golan Heights. Citing Syrian sources, the report said that Damascus is taking the necessary measures for such an eventuality.
According to the Syrian officials, the exercises in the Golan may "lead to a far greater danger than is obvious at the moment" because Israel carried them out, for the first time, near the ceasefire line bordering Syria. The daily also notes that during the drill, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Tel Aviv was closely monitoring "the change in the balance of power" between Hezbollah and Syria. Israel believes that Hezbollah and Syria are, in tandem, getting stronger.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Prisoner Release

Seems Israel is to release 199 prisoners in an attempt to bolster Abu Mazin. Doesn't bode well for Corporal Shalit in Gaza - seems he is less of a priority these days. Nor does the release of Marwan Barghouti seem immenent either - so perhaps we have to wait a while longer for peace.