By Dr. Abdul Ruff
A six-month Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and Hamas, which runs Gaza, came to an end on 19 Dec Friday. Hamas blamed Israel for the end of the ceasefire on Friday, saying it had not respected its terms, including the lifting of the blockade under which little more than humanitarian aid has been allowed into Gaza. Israel said it initially began a staged easing of the blockade, but this was halted when Hamas failed to fulfill what Israel says were agreed conditions, including ending all rocket fire.
History has shown Israel does not respect any deal with Palestinians as it wants to retain the illegal settlements in Palestine. By ignoring the international outcry over its illegal construction activities in Palestine, Israel continues its settlement projects in full swing and drives away the inhabitants from the Palestinian lands so acquired by Tel Aviv forcefully. Israeli forces torture the Palestinians the worst ways possible. Palestinians are used as Israeli agents and the life the people over there is being complicated.
It is obvious, the colonialist and imperialist thieves-cum-terrorists don’t surrender sovereignty and lands they occupy of others so easily chiefly because over years they have made their own terror people come and settle down on the stolen lands so that the losers don’t ask for the return of their lands. While historically many powers like Russia, Great Britain, Portugal, China and France have colonies under their control, in modern times, India, Israel, USA-led terror nations have annexed alien Muslim lands and are engaged in genocide spree in those nations to suppress the freedom seekers. Over years, they have got their own guys settle down in these nations causing enormous problems for the real inhabitants there. Since these powers control the UN and UNSC, the world bodies don’t take the independence cause serious enough a business. As a result, the oppressed nations are facing lot problems. The powers are equipped with terror forces and equipment.
Obviously, Mideast peace depends on the establishment of Palestine state. Israel tries to scuttle that move altogether by various nefarious injections, including invasions, blockades and genocides. Israel does not want any truce to succeed either. The latest Egyptian-brokered deal for truce for 6 months began on 19 June but has been tested regularly by Israeli operations in Gaza and retaliation from Palestinians on Israel and. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said a “major escalation of violence would have grave consequences for the protection of civilians in Gaza and Israel, the welfare of the Gazan civilian population, and the sustainability of political efforts”. However, Moon does not criticize the Israeli aggression and killings.
The countdown to February’s election has started with the candidates eager to court an electorate fearful of the future. Ms Livni told a meeting of her Kadima party that the state of Israel, and a government under her will make it a strategic objective she would topple Hamas if she became prime minister after the general election on 10 February. “The means for doing this should be military, economic and diplomatic. Likud party leader Binyamin Netanyahu also said the same. The threat by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Likud party leader Binyamin Netanyahu came after PM Ehud Olmert warned against making bold statements. Netanyahu, whose right-wing Likud party is currently ahead in the polls, meanwhile called for a more “active policy of attack”, accusing the current government of being too “passive”. “In the long-term, the toppling of the Hamas regime is inevitable,” he said while visiting Sderot. He refused to admit the terror activities of Israeli, but said residents of southern Israeli towns close to the Gaza Strip were “paying a hefty price for the mistakes made by Livni and her ministers” since the Israeli withdrawal from the territory in 2005.
Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas government in Gaza and former Palestinian prime minister, rightly dismissed the Israeli threats. “Nothing can finish off our people,” he said. “It is not our people who are escalating the situation; it is the Israeli occupation which should have stuck to the conditions of the truce.”
At an Israeli cabinet meeting on 21 Dec, Israel said that, against the increasing level of Israeli settlements in Palesitne, Hamas had increased the range of its rockets during the ceasefire and could now hit several southern Israeli cities. Prime Minister Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak also warned the cabinet and opposition parties against making “bold statements” about plans for a major military operation in Gaza. Olmert said during the cabinet meeting that the government had agreed to the ceasefire with Hamas last June with little doubt or hesitation.
Earlier, both Israel and leaders of Gaza’s ruling Islamic Hamas movement have said they hoped the Egyptian-brokered truce could be preserved. But a small, Hamas-allied group said they consider the truce to have broken down, and Israel has threatened to hit hard if the rocket fire persists. Ihab al-Ghussein, a spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry accused Israel of subverting the truce. “We call on the Palestinian factions to meet to begin an immediate re-evaluation of the calm,” spokesman said.
Israeli blockade and food terrorism have threatened the very life of Palestinians. The ruling Hamas said it has ended its six-month ceasefire with Israel in the Gaza Strip. Hamas issued a statement blaming Israel which had not “respected” the truce. Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman said the militants, who control Gaza, “had chosen violence over truth”. The Egyptian-brokered deal began on 19 June but has been tested regularly by Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel and Israeli operations in Gaza. “The ceasefire is over and there won’t be a renewal because the Zionist enemy has not respected its conditions,” Hamas said in a statement carried on its website. Hamas said Israel had failed to ease its blockade of Gaza.
It looks the establishment of Palestine state is never-ending struggle of innocent people under Israeli occupation. Israel signs truce with Palestinians only to violate it for advancing its narrow land acquisition, genocide and settlement constructions. Even though at present the Mideast peace process has lost its momentum on account of regime change in Washington, hopes are still alive as Palestine establishment has to come true one day, the earlier the better. Israeli atrocities in Palestine have gone out of bounds and the UN does not seem to act on the impact of Israeli aggression on Palestine. The US-brokered negotiations were launched at Annapolis, Maryland, in November 2007, with the goal of achieving a peace deal before President George W Bush leaves office on 20 January 2009.
As a result of US-Israeli strategy, the Palestinian freedom strugglers have been split into two factions, Hamas and Fatah and the West wanted to divide the existing tow tiny lands West bank and Gaza two little nations that would fight with each other eventually destroying themselves. Last year Hamas won the historic poll and formed the government but it was dismissed by Fatah President on the advice of US-Israel leaders. This led to a sort of civil war and Israel cleverly utilized the situation to continue its aggression.
As it is known Israel has tacit sanction from USA for its aggression and atrocities in Palestine. In fact the way, Israel has been prolonging the establishment of Palestine on Palestine lands clearly shows Israel indeed fits into the US description of a rogue state. A day after the ruling Hamas, which controls Gaza, ended its six-month-long ceasefire with Israel, a Palestinian has been killed in an Israeli strike on the Gaza strip. Meanwhile, a ship carrying international activists delivering medical aid has docked in the Gaza Strip, despite an Israeli blockade. Israeli officials insist that there was no commitment to ease the siege, under which Israel has allowed little more than basic humanitarian aid into Gaza. Israel says the blockade – in place since Hamas took control of Gaza in June 2007 – is needed to isolate Hamas and keep them under threat. Hamas blamed Israel for the end of the ceasefire, saying it had not respected the truce and had failed to ease its blockade of Gaza. Three other people are reported to have been injured in the air strike, including two militants.
Former Israeli premier Ariel Sharon was keen to settle the Palestine issue and seek peace in Middle East, but is in come now. His protégé and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is hoping to become Israel’s next prime minister, supports an independent Palestine. Opinion polls suggest she is in a close race with the right-wing Likud party. Israeli politicians are mindful of a looming general election. Hamas is also embroiled in a bitter internal struggle with its rivals in the Fatah movement, which governs the Palestinian areas of the West Bank. And Israel keeps expanding the Palestinian territories by annexing and constructing settlements there, angering the innocent Palestinians, whom Israeli terror forces kill.
Israeli leadership struggle
Israel is undergoing a leadership struggle and until the issue is settled, the Palestine issue would be kept hanging. After her election as Kadima leader last month, Ms Livni was asked to form a government to replace that of outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He said stepping down amid corruption allegations, but will remain in office until a new government is formed. Shas pulled out of talks for a new coalition, saying its two key demands – to increase child welfare payments and keep Jerusalem off the negotiating table with the Palestinians – had not been met. In the end, the reported difference between what she was offering the ultra-religious party Shas in increased child welfare payments, and what Shas was demanding, was about $100m. The next few months, leading to an election, will be full of insults and tumult and the chances of immediate diplomatic progress are, in that case, unlikely.
Earlier, she told Haaretz newspaper she was “not willing to be blackmailed” and the alternative to early elections was “for me to capitulate to extortion”. Ms Livni issued a statement saying: “When it became clear that everyone and every party was exploiting the opportunity to make demands that were economically and diplomatically illegitimate, I decided to call off (talks) and go to elections.”
The leader of Israel’s governing Kadima party, Tzipi Livni, has recommended holding general elections after failing to build a coalition government. Ms Livi told Israel’s President Shimon Peres that she had abandoned her attempts to form a majority. “The people will choose their leaders,” she said. Peres set three days to consult, but it is now almost certain that elections will be called for early next year.. Ms Livni had set other parties deadline to join Kadima in government. But the key Shas party turned her down, prompting her to say potential partners had made “economically and diplomatically illegitimate” demands. I could have stood here today and presented a government. I was ready to pay a certain price… but I wasn’t ready to mortgage the future of Israel,” she said after meeting Peres. (Kadima holds 29 seats in Israel’s 120-member Knesset and has secured a draft coalition agreement with the centre-left Labour party, which has 19 seats. Shas, an extra-Orthodox party, has been a crucial ally in Olmert’s coalition, with 12 seats).
The main opposition Likud party is already pointing out that if she is not even able to negotiate successfully with smaller parties, what hope is there she will be able to cope with the enormous demands of government? Binyamin Netanyahu, the leader of the right-wing main opposition Likud party, appears to be the main beneficiary of Ms Livni’s failure. She could have carried on bargaining, all the way to the final deadline allowed to her. There is a chance, though, that her relative freshness on the Israeli political stage, along with her refusal to succumb to all the smaller parties’ demands, may play well with the Israeli electorate.
As foreign minister, Ms Livni had been heading negotiations with the Palestinians, but they have effectively ground to a halt. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told the BBC that if Israelis were to choose to hold elections, no significant talks could take place before then. Tzipi Livni has a reputation for being understated, but reports from her camp suggested she exploded with frustration at the demands being placed on her by smaller parties. Latest opinion polls suggest the election will be a close race between Likud and Kadima. Israelis will view Tzipi Livni more generously, precisely because she did not do all she could to bring the smaller parties in.
But voters may ask themselves what exactly it stands for, given that there is now this other mainstream party which espouses Palestinian statehood. What counts for some as a disadvantage for Tzipi Livni – her inexperience, militarily and politically – may yet weigh in her favour for the many Israelis who are not filled with joy at seeing former Prime Ministers – either the Labour leader Ehud Barak, or Binyamin Netanyahu – back in office. Ms Livni has also played heavily on her contrast to outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, tainted by a cloud of corruption allegations. Polls suggest the hawkish Binjamin Netanyahu could be elected Israeli prime minister in February, however, and he does not want to carry on with the negotiations in their current format.
Ms Livni was also reported to have exploded with indignation about Shas, and other ultra-religious parties’ insistence that the status of Jerusalem not be discussed in any future negotiations with the Palestinians. This is not to say that Ms Livni, or those around her, have suddenly decided that East Jerusalem is indeed occupied territory, and must be evacuated to become the capital of a future Palestinian state. Again, the conventional wisdom is that the big winner in all this will be Binyamin Netanyahu, the former Prime Minister and leader of the main opposition right-wing Likud party, if Livni does not get to the high chair for whatever reason.
Israeli leadership struggle has led to a controversy over the status of Israeli Arabs. Israeli Arabs trace their origins to the Palestinians who remained on their property or escaped expulsion in 1948 when Israel was created. They now make up about 20% of the state’s population and their numbers are increasing. On paper, they enjoy equal rights with Jewish Israelis – unlike their Palestinian counterparts in the occupied territories – but they have frequently complained of discrimination. Creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza is the object of US-backed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Israeli leader and Kadima supremo Tzipi Livni has sparked controversy by saying a Palestinian state would provide “a national solution” for Israel’s Arabs. Politicians from the minority Arab community have demanded she clarify if it means that Arabs citizens will face loss of rights in Israel or expulsion. Israeli politicians have long grappled with the issue of a growing proportion of ethnic Arabs in the Jewish state. “Transfer” has been mooted explicitly only by far right-wingers in Israel.
Controversy erupted by her remarks to school children broadcast on Israeli radio has caused commotion in Palestine. Ms Livni’s said her solution for maintaining a Jewish and democratic state of Israel was “to have two distinct national entities. Among other things I will also be able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel… and tell them: ‘Your national aspirations lie elsewhere.'”
Some Israeli politicians have suggested she may be trying to project a hard-line image in an attempt to draw votes away from Likud. Ms Livni tried to clarify her comments on Dec 11 Friday. “There is no question of carrying out a transfer or forcing the Israeli Arabs to leave,” she told public radio. “I am willing to give up a part of the country over which I believe we have rights so that Israel will remain a Jewish and democratic state in which citizens have equal rights, whatever their religion,” she added.
Arab MP Ahmed Tibi demanded that Ms Livni be absolutely open about what she meant, as befits a candidate for Israel’s prime ministership. “She must decide whether she means to leave 1m Arabs without political rights or a national identity, or whether she really intends to transfer 1m Arab citizens to the Palestinian state that will be established,” he told Israeli army radio.
Israeli Aggressions in Palestine
It was expected that the June 19 truce for six months was due to expire, and both sides might be trying to dictate more favorable terms in anticipation of the agreement’s renewal. But, once again, after nearly five months of relative quiet, Israeli tanks forged into the southern Gaza Strip on Nov 18, as Israel and Hamas have been trading fire for two weeks. The Israeli tanks, backed by a bulldozer and military jeep, rumbled about a quarter-mile into the tiny seaside strip, residents and Gaza security officials said. Residents said they leveled lands along the border east of the city of Rafah. The Israeli military described the activity as “a routine operation to uncover explosive devices near the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip.” It said two mortars were fired at troops, causing no injuries or damage. Israel says the “militant” groups fired both mortars and rockets.
Israel has attacked Palestinians, killed some of them, arrested many, closed the crossings, and stopped essential supplies to Gaza. This has been a routine matter even with truce in place. At least 17 Gazans have been killed since the truce began unraveling, by the military’s count. In an effort to squelch the rocket fire, Israel has kept cargo crossings into Gaza clamped shut for the most part, drastically restricting vital supplies. The Israel could do anything to ruin the Palestinians while its anti-Islamic police and other terror forces have high hopes of turning Skunk into a commercial venture and selling it to law-enforcement agencies overseas. In recent weeks, several dozen foreign activists have defied the siege, reaching Gaza by boat to try to draw attention to the misery the blockade has caused Gaza’s 1.4 million people. A local anti-blockade activist, Amjad Shawwa, said Israeli seamen boarded a Palestinian fishing boat and arrested one of Gaza’s foreign supporters and five Palestinian fishermen.
Israel has created a food shortage in Palestine by blocking the crossings and intermittent air strikes. Israel is deploying a new, non-lethal but highly effective and highly-offensive weapon in and around Nilin where there are regular, sometimes violent, protests against the continued building of Israel’s West Bank barrier which snakes around a new Jewish settlement on the other side of the small valley. Acutely aware of accusations that it is using disproportionate force in political hot-spots like Nilin, An overpowering mix of rotting meat, old socks that haven’t been washed for weeks – topped off with the pungent waft of an open sewer. It’s called Skunk. For human rights groups, the jury is still out on Skunk. They object to the arbitrary way in which innocent bystanders can be soaked with the stuff – having to suffer for days afterwards. Then again, protestors and villagers are still being killed and seriously injured in the West Bank by more conventional weapons. As unpleasant and as disgusting as it is, being sprayed with Skunk may ultimately be preferable to being hit by a rubber-coated bullet or choking and vomiting under the effects of tear-gas or pepper-spray. That is the collective punishment of Palestinians by Israeli forces with tacit US support. And both claim to be great democracies.
Not many Israelis are enthusiastic about Palestine statehood but many political outfits just oppose that thought itself. Labour, the second party in the outgoing coalition and Kadima stand on the side of future Palestinian statehood. Labor has a long and proud history in governing Israel, and a big political machine behind it. Likud stands for giving the Palestinians an “entity” but not a state. Kadima, it is said, is not a proper political party. It was set up simply as the election-winning vehicle for Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma for almost three years. In that case, one might expect Labour and Kadima to spend the next four months smacking each other in the fight for one particular group of voters, while Likud looks contentedly on.
Talks and Israeli air-strikes continue. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Fatah which controls parts of the West Bank, was in Washington to discuss the Mideast situation with US President George W Bush. Jerusalem remains a radioactive issue as far as they are concerned, emotionally and politically. On 18 Dec the UN Security Council has adopted a resolution aimed at giving fresh momentum to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The resolution is the first on the Middle East issue adopted by the 15-member council in almost five years. Diplomats say the resolution is America’s attempt to carry over any progress to Barack Obama’s administration. The draft describes US-brokered talks between Israelis and Palestinians as “irreversible” and urges greater diplomatic efforts to secure a deal. This is not going to happen but the resolution gives the Security Council’s backing for the talks to continue. The draft calls on both parties to “refrain from any steps that could undermine confidence or prejudice the outcome of negotiations”. It also urges an “intensification of diplomatic efforts” to build lasting peace in the Middle East. It passed by 14 votes to zero. One council member, Libya, abstained.
US President George W Bush had hoped to have a Middle East peace deal by the time he leaves office in January, but he no more enthusiastic about it now. The next parliamentary poll had been scheduled for 2010. Peres’ consultations have failed. But commentators say no other coalition is likely to emerge and Ms Livni’s decision will effectively lead to new elections, which look set to be held in February. Opinion polls suggest Ms Livni could face a tough fight in an early election against the right-wing Likud party.
Ms Livni who thus far supported the establishment of an independent Palestine is already threatening the Hamas. Tzipi Livni has suffered a severe bout of political indigestion. All the reports emanating from her advisers suggest that she is fed up.
Israel’s fractured politics reflect an atomised society where each political component pulls the ruling government out when it goes for a deal with Palestinians for enduring peace.. One can then have to guess what sort of multi-colored, three-dimensional coalition will be gummed together as a result of the next poll in February. The crucial issue is if the future coalition would be sincere enough to help the Palestinians establish their own indent state. It is a known fact that Palestinians want to make Jerusalem s their capital. It is also true that whatever the future of Jerusalem is to be, to remove it from the negotiating table altogether would make any talks with the Palestinians utterly meaningless.