MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Peace comes closer?
The Israeli government has at last done something very right. Ehud Olmert's new peace initiative offers a way out of the long and grueling Israeli-Palestinian impasse and a hand of support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The address was not just words, since it was accompanied by an agreement on a ceasefire in Gaza. Israel has abided by the truce in Gaza. Palestinian compliance has been "less than exemplary," as Qassam rockets continued to land in Sderot and the Western Negev, though in lesser numbers. [more]
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Jewish peaceniks, Christian visitors, and the Israel-Palestine problem
The cabdriver tells me he hasn't set foot in Jerusalem's Old City in 18 years. Before the first intifada, he used to eat there three times a week, he says, but now he is afraid.
"It's too bad," he says, adding that when he was growing up, between the Yom Kippur war and the first Lebanon war, Arab friends used to visit his parents on the Jewish side of Jerusalem, and they would cook lamb over a fire. Later, as an adult, he used to drive to Ramallah or Tulkarem to shop or repair his car. Israelis were kidnapped and murdered in both places early in the second intifada, and Israel now forbids its citizens to visit there.
It's too bad, we agree.
The driver wants to know what business brings me to the Old City this evening. It's not business, I tell him. I am going there as a volunteer of MidEastWeb for Coexistence, to make a brief presentation to some foreign activists who have come here under the auspices of the World Council of Churches. They have invited speakers from some peace organizations working in Israel.
by Joseph M. Hochstein @ 05:15 PM CST [Link]
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
To a Palestinian friend - how not to end the impasse
Like you, and like many Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews who have invested so much hope in the prospect of peace, I have been following the events of the past year with increasing distress.
Monday, November 20, 2006
The situation in the Palestinian and the Israeli Arenas, and Ways Out
The Palestinian Arena: The National unity Government might not come!
In contrast to the optimism that obtained until this last week, the Palestinian Unity Government might not come to existence, five points about the Government are agreed upon between Hamas and Fatah, while the important other four points are still problematic. [more]
Monday, November 13, 2006
After the elections: US Policy in the Middle East
The stuff is about to hit the fan in this neck of the woods, if we believe any of our favorite or unfavorite Middle East commentators. Pundits in Washington, Beirut and Jerusalem mostly agree that changes are imminent. Many of them seem to believe also that the outline of those changes is at least barely visible. These changes, if they come, will probably not, by and large be due to the Democratic majority in congress. As Marco Vicenzino notes, congress does not make foreign policy. Congress could force the hand of the Bush administration by refusing appropriations for Iraq, for example, but that is unlikely. In any case, Vicenzino is about the only commentator who is not insisting that a big change is in the air.
Thursday, November 9, 2006
The Prospects of Palestinian Statehood and Peace After Hamas' Electoral Success: Challenges of Hamas victory and ways out
We are pleased to present this illuminating analysis of Palestinian thinking about the Hamas. It represents an attempt by a moderate Palestinian to attempt to fit the Hamas victory into the rubric of dialogue and rapprochement, leading to the two-state solution that we think is the only hope for both Palestinians and Israelis. The problem with all such approaches is that they are attempting to square the circle. It seems there is no path to peace with Hamas while Hamas leaders continue to assert that it will never make peace with Israel under any circumstances. Ahmed Yousef proposes a pause for peace in the New York Times, but Khaled Meshaal, Ismail Haniyeh and others continue to insist there can never be peace. We should not ignore harbingers of change, but we can't ignore what Hamas leaders say most consistently.
The only policy that offers hope of changing Hamas intransigence seems to be continuation of the international boycott. Unfortunately, the boycott as implemented is hurting the Palestinian people selectively, while Hamas itself finds ample sources of funds to purchase arms and maintain its "security" organizations. It may also be wishful thinking to hope that in present circumstances, the US will be willing to launch a new foreign policy initiative of the type that would be required, (see here ) or that Israeli public opinion would be amenable to such an approach following the failure of the Oslo peace process. It would be good indeed if both sides could agree to the Clinton proposals and the Arab peace initiative, as Walid Salem suggests, but if they did there would not be a problem. Indeed, Mr. Arafat and the PLO did not agree to the Clinton Proposals. Had he done so, there would have been a Palestinian state today. We cannot expect that Hamas will accept what the PLO rejected. The idea of using an international force is constructive. However, the test of this international force must be its ability to restore order in Gaza first, to stop the rocket attacks on Israel as well as the internecine violence, and to disarm the terrorist groups. If the force is a success in Gaza, then the same solution can be applied to the West Bank. The jury is still out on the UNIFIL force in Lebanon, but if the relative calm of Lebanon today could be imposed in Gaza, it would be a decided improvement over the current nightmare. It is very unlikely that the Hamas can or will stop terror attacks originating in Gaza, boycott or no no boycott, Hudna or no Hudna. Since the election of Hamas, an unprecedent barrage of rocket fire has fallen on Israel, and an Israeli soldier was kidnapped on Israeli soil. All this occurred while the famous Tahidiyeh (lull) was in force and Hamas keeps threatening to break the Tahediyeh. This is the Hamas response to Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. It doesn't require much imagination to predict the response of Hamas to withdrawal from the West Bank. -- A.I.
From the moment that Hamas took power in the Palestinian Authority, three strategic approaches have been used to analyse the impact of this success on the two-state solution and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. One approach believes that both sides entered a political impasse combined with a social and economic impasse in Palestinian society. The second approach states that Hamas' success will move the Palestinians from a strategy of impotence, which did not lead to the fulfilment of Palestinianís rights, to a strategy of Jihad and resistance, thereby securing these rights. The third approach considers Hamas' success as an opportunity that includes a challenge to move towards peace and reconciliation between Israel and possibly the entire Islamic world. [more]
It is past time to end the Gaza mess
The tragic deaths of 19 people in Gaza were due, apparently to an operational error of the IDF. That doesn't change the fact that 19 people are dead, and that enormous harm has been done to the already moribund "peace process," to Israel and to the Palestinians. The tragedy, inevitable in the circumstances, underlines what we already knew: it is urgent to end the nightmare in Gaza, restore order and reconstitute a new peace process. The Palestinians and Israelis are apparently incapable of doing it, and the rest of the world has washed their hands.
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
David Grossman: The will to peace
Beloved Israeli Author David Grossman lost his son in the recent Lebanon war. His address to the Rabin memorial assembly was of special importance. It carries messages both for Israelis and friends of Israel, and for others.
In much of the Arab world, "Zionism" is pretty nearly synonymous with evil and incompatible with peace. Grossman's speech however, is a testament that peace is an essential Zionist goal.
The opening paragraphs express the feelings of all those who love Israel, and explain to those who do not understand, why we are here, why we cling to this land, and why he is moved to speak out for peace. Peace is not a gift that the Israeli lift wants to give to our enemies. Peace is something that we all need in order to survive.
Thursday, November 2, 2006
Rabin's Legacy: 11 years after - Hell is indifference
Eleven years after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by right-wing fanatic Yigal Amir, Yossi Sarid, like many of us is quietly outraged. He is outraged by the fact that 30% of Israelis are willing to pardon Amir. Killing the Prime Minister of Israel is apparently an acceptable way to change the government in their view. He is outraged by the decision to allow Amir conjugal visits with his wife, Larissa Trimbobler. Sarid is right about that. He is wrong in his conclusion, that all this poses no threat to security, because you can't assassinate the same man twice. [more]
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