Archive for the ‘Arabs’ Category

Meeting of Arab leaders on Gaza ends in discord

January 20, 2009

Arab leaders trying to come up with a plan to rebuild Gaza ended their meeting Tuesday in discord, unable to agree on whether to back Egyptian peace efforts or even set up a joint reconstruction fund for the devastated Palestinian territory.

The deep tensions among rival Arab leaders could affect the fragile cease-fire between Hamas and Israel that ended a three-week Israeli onslaught on the Mediterranean strip. The military campaign to stop militant rocket fire left around 1,300 Palestinians dead, according to Gaza health officials, and material damage estimated at around $2 billion. Thirteen Israelis were also killed.

The violence in Gaza split Arab countries into two camps — one led by Syria and Qatar supporting Hamas hard-liners who rule the territory, and another led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia hoping to lure the Palestinian militant group toward more moderation.

The two-day gathering of Arab leaders in Kuwait that ended Tuesday was expected to announce a fund to rebuild Gaza and a unified statement about how to end the crisis there.

Instead, pledges came in vague and without figures, along with criticism for Israel and threats to hold it accountable for what leaders called “war crimes” in Gaza.

Saudi Arabia was the only Arab country to commit at the opening of the gathering to a $1 billion contribution for rebuilding efforts, and Kuwait’s emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, said the reconstruction should be an “international collective effort.”

By DIANA ELIAS, Associated Press Writer

President Hosni Mubarak, of Egypt, King Abdullah  of Saudi Arabia, ... 
President Hosni Mubarak, of Egypt, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Sabah Al Sabah, Amir of Kuwait and Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Amir of Qatar, from left, walk in to the Arab Economic Summit at the Bayan Palace in Kuwait, Monday, Jan. 19, 2009. The Saudi king said an Arab initiative offering peace with Israel will not remain on the table forever. King Abdullah says Israel has to understand that the choice between war and peace will not always stay open.(AP Photo/Ameeri Diwan)

It remains to be seen when the money will be paid and if it will be delivered to Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers or to the rival Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

“An international effort is a million times better,” said Nabil al-Fadhl, columnist for Kuwait’s Al-Watan newspaper. “Do you want to give the donations to Hamas, the illegal authority?”

Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007 from its Palestinian rival, the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which now controls only the West Bank. The two groups have been unable to come up with a power-sharing agreement.

Shortly before a final statement was read, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, without naming specific countries, said leaders were unable to reach a consensus.

“Some are entrenched in their positions,” Zebari told state-owned Kuwait Television.

After the summit ended, Arab League chief Amr Moussa acknowledged he was frustrated.

“Of course the Arab situation is still troubled and tense … and we need to exert efforts to close ranks as much as possible,” he said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090120/ap_on_re_m
i_ea/ml_mideast_diplomacy;_ylt=AomtMR3B0coDx
Z0_dDNxMB1vaA8F

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Gaza Cease-Fire: Bridging A Chasm; Is Hamas Ready To Deal?

January 6, 2009

How can men like Britain’s Tony Blair and France’s President Sarkozy possibly bridge the divide between Hamas and Israel and broker a cease fire?

Sarkozy was told by Prime Minister Olmert in Israel that “Sometimes the need to find a compromise in the UN comes at Israel’s expense.”

In Syria, Bashar Assad, did not respond to Sarkozy’s call to intercede with Hamas, instead slamming the Israeli assault on the coastal strip as a “war crime” and an “aggression” that Israel must halt.

In Iran, President Ahmadinejad doesn’t even believe the Holocaust really happened, has spoken about wiping Israel away, is working on a nuclear program and he doesn’t even recognize the Israel as a state, calling it “the Zionist regime.”

Tony Blair seems to understand that Israel has to get something from Hamas in order to even seriously consider a cease fire.
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“If there is strong action on that front, so that Israel feels it has achieved something — namely the end of the smuggling of weapons and finance to Hamas — then I think it is possible to resolve this reasonably quickly,” Blair told CNN.

“If that doesn’t happen, if we’re not in that position, then obviously it’s going to go on.”

Late Tuesday word came that Hamas just might be ready to make a deal.

“Hamas is ready to agree to peace if the Israeli army will stop military operations and withdraw from Gaza, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad told CNN Tuesday,” said a CNN report.
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“They are ready (to make a deal),” Al-Assad told CNN’s Cal Perry in an exclusive interview. “They were ready, they are ready. Today, the factors have changed so the requirement will change at the same time.

Related from CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast
/01/06/israel.gaza.diplomacy/index.html

Gaza: Sarkozy Seeks Help In Syria; Told Israel is “War Criminal”

January 6, 2009

French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Syria on Tuesday to exert pressure on its ally Hamas to help end the fighting in the Gaza Strip between the militant Palestinian group and Israeli forces.

But his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, did not respond to Sarkozy’s call to intercede with Hamas, instead slamming the Israeli assault on the coastal strip as a “war crime” and an “aggression” that Israel must halt.

By ALBERT AJI, Assocaited Press Writer

Sarkozy’s visit to the Syrian capital is part of a whirlwind Mideast tour amid European diplomatic efforts….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090106/ap_on_re_mi_ea
/ml_mideast_diplomacy;_ylt=AuU11TL1q2x5Q
P3mswVx8ANvaA8F

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) and his French counterpart ... 
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad (R) and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy hold a news conference after a meeting in Damascus January 6, 2009. Sarkozy asked Syria on Tuesday to help convince Hamas to cooperate in international efforts to end the Israeli assault in the Gaza Strip.REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri (SYRIA)

Related:
Israel Sees Existential Fight: Enemies, Uncertainty All Around
.
 Gaza: France’s Sarkozy Not Helping

Understanding Israel: Necessary Step in Solving Middle East Violence?

Understanding Israel: Necessary Step in Solving Middle East Violence?

January 6, 2009

The best participants in the international scene understand the individual sensitivities and nuances in the minds of others.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is one of those international players that “gets it.”

He recently told Charlie Rose on PBS a story about understaning Russia and Russians.

Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev, Gates said, was embarrassed in Geneva in 1955 that President Dwight D. Eisenhower‘s plane was bigger than his.

“I mean, this is pretty deep-seated stuff, and so trying to avoid touching on one of Russia’s insecurities is almost impossible,” Gates concluded.

So it is with Israel.

Maybe the Holocaust left a lasting impression upon all Israelis that life, even in a seemingly secure world, can change in a moment.

And maybe the fact that Israel is surrounded by a hostile Arab community  plays heavily upon the Israeli psyche.

In Iran, President Ahmadinejad doesn’t even believe the Holocaust really happened, has spoken about wiping Israel away, is working on a nuclear program and he doesn’t even recognize the Israel as a state, calling it “the Zionist regime.”

So, when outsiders hustle into Israel to offer cease-fires, peace and security, there might be a tad of doubt.

So it was today when French President Sarkozy tried to convince Israel’s prime Minister Olmert that a cease-fire demanded by the United States would ge a really good thing.

Sarkozoy thought a U.S. Cease fire might be peachy.

Olmert: not.

Today Olmert reminded Sarkozy that “Sometimes the need to find a compromise in the UN comes at Israel’s expense.”

What Olmert was thinking we do not know.  But you can figure he was thinking: “We here in Israel are surrounded by people who want us all dead, and you Europeans and even the U.N has never been much of a help.”

By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attends a weekly cabinet ... 
Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has some understandable doubt that the EU, UN and others will do the right thing for Israel…..REUTERS/Gali Tibbon/Pool (JERUSALEM)

Related:
Israel Sees Existential Fight: Enemies, Uncertainty All Around
.
 Gaza: France’s Sarkozy Not Helping

Gates on Russians:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content
/article/2009/01/04/AR2009010401503.html

Gaza, Israel Highlight Stark Obama, Bush Differences

January 4, 2009

George Bush has been such a good ally to Israel  that most members of the United Nations said last night they were unable to get any statement condemning the bloodletting in Gaza out the door because of the U.S.

Libyan Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi said the United States during the discussions objected to “any outcome” on the proposed statement.
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Egypt’s U.N. Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz said it was regrettable that one permanent council member — a clear reference to the U.S. — refused to accept any statement at a time when “the aggression is escalating and more people are dying and the military attack on the ground is at its full scale.”

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. observer, said: “We have war. We have aggression against the Palestinian people, and it is a sad and tragic moment when the Security Council cannot address this issue by at least demanding from Israel … to stop this aggression immediately.”

But the Obama camp was silent, almost, speaking only to again say there can only be one president at a time and that Obama was monitoring the situation “along with other global events.”
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Not everyone was happy with that.
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Obama’s  muted response has already drawn the anger of some in the Middle East.

“The start is not good,” said Khaled Meshaal, leader of the Hamas Islamist movement that has ruled Gaza since June 2007, said of the Obama statement.

 

“You commented on Mumbai but you say nothing about the crime of the enemy (Israel). This policy of double standards should stop.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke Saturday with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Above: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke Saturday with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

In July Barack Obama sought to boost his Jewish vote back in America with an emotional stump-speech in Sderot, a community in Israel which is a target for much of the Palestinian rocket-fire from Gaza.

Referring to his children Malia, 9, and Sasha, 7, the then US presidential candidate said: “If somebody is sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that – and I’d expect Israelis to do the same thing.”

But Israelis believes that Obama can and will never support them the way Bush has — and that in part drove the timing of the ongoing assault on Gaza.

Paul McGeough  wrote for The Advocate in Australia, “If Israel was to act against Hamas, it needed to move in these last days of the Bush presidency because, despite his words in Sderot, Israel worries that the incoming American president might be less supportive than his predecessor.”

Bush has often ignored the UN.  He even sent a very combatative Ambassador to the U.N. in New York, John Bolton.

Obama says he will embrace the UN and has said he’ll make his choice as Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, a cabinet level officer.

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Read the Advocte:
http://www.theadvocate.com.au/news/world
/world/general/israel-takes-little-comfort-fro
m-obama/1399026.aspx

UN Diplomats Say US Blocked Any Gaza Statement:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090104/ap_on_
re_mi_ea/un_un_israel_palestinians

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Israel’s leaders are asking themselves two questions: Is the cost of sending sufficient ground forces into Gaza just too high? And, upon his inauguration on Jan. 20, will President Obama undercut Israel’s counterterror offensive before its goals have been reached?

Read the rest:
http://www.nypost.com/seven/01012009/news
/columnists/bam_stirs_fears_in_israel_146762.htm

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Israeli officials have told us that they believe the U.N. is dominated by anti-Israeli forces.

“The U.N. is no friend to Israel.  And any move to help Israel in the Security Council is blocked by China and Russia,” a senior Israeli diplomat told Peace and Freedom.

Read more:
Israel Sees Existential Fight: Enemies, Uncertainty All Around

Most Dangerous Obama Appointee

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/
meast/01/04/israel.gaza/index.html

Gaza: Hamas Was Dying, Now Israel Has Revived It….

December 30, 2008

In its efforts to stop amateur rockets from nagging the residents of some of its southern cities, Israel appears to have given new life to the fledging Islamic movement in Palestine.

By Daoud Kuttab
The Washington Post

For two years, the Islamic Resistance Movement (known by its Arabic acronym, Hamas) has been losing support internally and externally. This wasn’t the case in the days after the party came to power democratically in early 2006; despite being unjustly ostracized by the international community for its anti-Israeli stance, Hamas enjoyed the backing of Palestinians and other Arabs. Having won a decisive parliamentary majority on an anti-corruption platform promising change and reform, Hamas worked hard to govern better than had Fatah, its rival and predecessor.

Things began to sour when Hamas violently seized control of Gaza, but even then, Hamas enjoyed considerable domestic support — and much goodwill externally. Then the movement turned down every legitimate offer from its nationalist PLO rivals and Egyptian mediators to pursue reconciliation, and support for it began to slip.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20
08/12/29/AR2008122901901.html?hpid=opinionsbox1