Friday, October 22, 2010

The Gilad Question

The hearts of Israel appear to have been hijacked by a specky reservist from Galilee. His slightly bewildered face, as if foretelling his current predicament, shines out from billboards, broadsheets, and blogs.
While unremarkable in his own right, since being kidnapped by Hamas in 2006, young Gilad Shalit has been commandeered by the media as a living symbol of Israeli identity: the younger generation of Israel’s society is being held to ransom by their impetuous neighbours and compromised by their dithering government.

Military service is a right-of-passage for all young Israelis. By being caught at this time, between a boy and a man, Gilad appears at his most vulnerable and most emotive.

This video, posted on Youtube, is a reaction against the media frenzy around Shalit . While the representation of Palestinians is obscenely xenophobic, but they are not the real victims of this satirist’s art. Instead he points the finger of blame for failed negotiations over Gilad’s release firmly in the direction of the general public, rather than towards Hamas or Netanyahu.

The contradictions evident in the campaigns to free Gilad, which fret about his health, distraught family, and his position as an innocent pawn in a government game, deny all recognition of responsibility for Palestinian prisoners held in violation of international humanitarian law.

Khalid Meshaal, interviewed by Newsweek, had this to say: “Yes, Gilad Shalit is a human being. But 8,000 Palestinian prisoners are human beings, too. Gilad Shalit has a family. Those 8,000 prisoners have families, too. Yes, Gilad Shalit has a right to be free and we are conscientious of giving him this freedom and to release him. But we have thousands of our captives who have a right to be liberated and be free.”

By publically squaring up to Israel over Gilad, Hamas is testing the waters for direct peace talks. By campaigning so passionately for the release of one soldier, a section of Israel’s public is pushing their own government into a corner, through the manipulation of media which subversively dictates public opinion.

Many Palestinians are eagerly awaiting a prisoner swap too: for the return of their loved ones, and for the return of a potential new leader – Marwan Barghouti.

Barghouti, a populist leader respected by both Fatah and Hamas members, has languished in an Israeli jail under 5 life sentences and yet still has a considerable following amongst all Palestinians who believe this man may be the key to peace.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Talking About Israel

Felix sent this across with the comment: "Self serving but in part very interesting statistics". Which is true I guess:

CLICK HERE TO VIEW >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Where the peace talks currently stand

Israel’s 10 month moratorium on building new homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank expired on September 26. This brought peace talks to standstill. Minutes after settlement freeze expired, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement calling on Mr. Abbas “to continue the good and sincere talks that we have just started, in order to reach an historic peace agreement between our two peoples.” But Mr. Netanyahu made no reference to the settlement freeze, which Mr. Abbas has said repeatedly, must be extended in order for the Palestinians to remain in negotiations with Israel.

America has offered Israel an incentive package in exchange for a 60 day extension of the settlement freeze. Allegedly Israel has been promised a lengthy “transitional period” for security on the eastern border of a future Palestinian (which would include Israel’s ability to retain IDF presence in the Jordan Valley). Military hardware and a pledge to veto U.N. resolutions relating to Arab-Israeli peace for a year have also been promised by the Americans.

By accepting this offer, Israel would keep alive the peace talks. However the political make-up of Israel makes it difficult for Netanyahu to accept this offer. He would need the approval of a settlement freeze extension from his 29-member Cabinet or at least his 15-member Security Cabinet, and he doesn’t have enough votes yet in those bodies. Furthermore Netanyahu’s greatest political fear is of a repeat of 1999, when after making concessions to the Palestinians at Wye Plantation, he lost his right-wing political support base and was defeated by Barak in the election. This time round Netanyahu wants to avoid accepting an American package, going ahead with the peacemaking, and then losing the next election to Kadima’s Tzipi Livni.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Palestinian Refusal to Recognise 'Jewish State' in Exchange for a Freeze

Abu Mazen has rejected an offer to freeze settlement building in exchange for recognition of Israel ‘as a Jewish State’, stating that ‘issue of the Jewishness of the state has nothing to do with the matter’.

Netanyahu described the offer not as a condition but as a ‘trust-building step’. He was speaking at the third session of the opening of the 18th Knesset.

Perhaps the offer is an attempt to seize the initiative in arguments over a settlement freeze.

Meanwhile Kadima’s Tzipi Livni criticised Netanyahu’s leadership, saying that his indecision and preoccupation with the coalition is making Israel weak in the eyes of the international community.