Archive for the ‘Livni’ Category

Israel: Inconclusive Election May Make Middle East Peace Illusive

February 11, 2009

“I voted to improve security,” one man told CBS News.

The election is over in Israel and now a government has to be formed.

But the election showed how muchmany Israelis now worry about Iran, Hezbollad and Hamas around them.  This will make for a very difficult tals for thise seeking a lasting Middle east Paece.

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By KARIN LAUB, Associated Press Writer
JERUSALEM – Inconclusive election results sent Israel into political limbo Wednesday with both Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and hard-line leader Benjamin Netanyahu claiming victory and leaving the kingmaker role to a rising political hawk with an anti-Arab platform.

Livni’s Kadima Party won 28 seats, just one more than Netanyahu’s Likud, in Tuesday’s election for the 120-member parliament, according to nearly complete results. With neither party winning a clear majority, neither can govern alone. Gains by right-wing parties give Netanyahu a better chance of forming a coalition with his natural allies.

The results set the stage for what could be weeks of coalition negotiations. Israeli media reported the first meetings were scheduled for Wednesday.

Such paralysis could dampen prospects for Egyptian-led attempts to broker a truce between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers after Israel’s devastating offensive in Gaza last month. Hamas might be reluctant to sign a deal at the risk of having it overturned by the incoming coalition.

Whatever government is forged, it is unlikely to move quickly toward peace talks with the Palestinians and instead could find itself on a collision course with President Barack Obama, who has said he’s making a Mideast peace deal a priority.

It’s up to Israeli President Shimon Peres to decide whether Livni or Netanyahu should have the first shot at forming a government. Peres will meet with party leaders to hear their recommendations, and then has a week to make up his mind.

However, the final word may be up to ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman, a former Netanyahu protege and perhaps Israel’s most divisive politician, whose rightist Yisrael Beiteinu gained four seats in the election to hold 15.

Lieberman kept his options open, saying he spoke both to Livni and Netanyahu after the polls closed. “We want a right-wing government,” Lieberman told party activists, but added that “we do not rule out anyone.”

Several hours after polls closed, Livni and Netanyahu staged rival victory rallies.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090211/ap_on_
re_mi_ea/ml_israel_politics_2

International Effort “Guarantees” Gaza Cease Fire

January 17, 2009

On Tuesday, Israel was already looking for a way to end the fighting in Gaza.

But Hamas was pledging to fight to the last drop of blood.

And Hamas was supported and emboldened by allies such as Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and thousands of of protesting and angry anti-Israeli people.

So a group in the international community made a pledge, in the form of a question, to Israel: If we can help you achieve your goals will you end the fighting?

Israel agreed.  And as of today, Israel, the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy and others are living up to that agreement.

Israel really needed two things: a halt to the rocket attacks into Israel and a way to assure that Hamas doesn’t rearm.

Today, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told reporters that France and Germany had joined Britain in a pledge to curtail the bloodshed in Gaza now, by offering long-term support in keeping Hamas from rearming.

 “The Israelis, Egyptians and Palestinian Authority know this offer is available,” he said. “I think this may make it easier for people to come to a cease-fire.”
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Brown said that if a cease-fire is reached, Britain has people ready to enter Gaza to provide humanitarian aid to help relieve the obvious suffering.

“Britain will not be found lacking in the support we can give,” he said.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office released a statement indicating that she, Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy had sent letters to Israeli and Egyptian leaders expressing a willingness to take a series of concrete measures to combat arms smuggling.

She said they all expressed support for “the efforts of the Israeli and Egyptian governments to reach a lasting cease-fire in Gaza.”

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi also joined in the offer of help, his office said Saturday.

European diplomats are part of a global push to calm the situation in Gaza, where more than 1,100 Palestinians and 13 Israelis have been killed since an Israeli offensive against Hamas terrorists began in late December.

Israel thought the U.S. so important to the international effort that prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to Washington DC to sign an agreement with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The two-and-a-half page document outlines a framework under which the United States will provide military and intelligence assets, including detection and surveillance equipment, as well as logistical help and training to Israel, Egypt and other nations in the region. The equipment and training would be used for monitoring Gaza’s land and sea borders.

The document also calls for the U.S. to expand work with its NATO partners in the effort, particularly in the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and eastern Africa, according to a text.

It also commits Washington to use relevant components of the U.S. military to assist Mideast governments in preventing weapons and explosives flows to Gaza that originate in or transit their territories.

“If this doesn’t satisfy the Israeli cabinet, what will?” a Western observer asked

Related from the Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1232
100167091&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2
FShowFull

Related:
 Russia “Herding Squirrels” Iran, Syria, Hamas Toward Cease Fire

Day 18 in Gaza: “Fighting Along Side Diplomacy”

January 13, 2009

At 1600 GMT Tuesday, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak again reiterated what he has said before: the assault upon Gaza would continue, along side diplomtic efforts to secure a cease-fire.

Related:
Day 19: Israel, Hamas Continue To Battle; Seeming Diplomatic Stalemate

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, urged both Israel and Hamas to “just give up” the fighting.

Barak said, “We heard, and we respect the calls of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and, of course, we are also monitoring developments on the Egyptian initiative, but the fighting goes on and the IDF is continuing to apply force.”

Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak attends the weekly cabinet ... 
Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem January 11, 2009.(David Silverman/Pool/Reuters)

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Tuesday said Israel’s campaign against Hamas in Gaza was serving the interest of the Palestinian people, as well as that of Israel.

Livni said the operation’s success would help all moderate forces in the region, including Palestinians who believe in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She made the comments at a meeting with a delegation from the American Jewish Committee.
 

 

Israeli forces commenced heavy shelling of areas surrounding Gaza City on Tuesday morning, as troops continued to push deeper into the densely populated urban center.
Hamas showed no sign of stopping the fighting.
Israel is now bringing its massive advantage in firepower into play as never before.

Rocket in Ashkelon 
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Above: Hamas rocket hit a house in Ashkelon, Israel, about 10 miles north of the Gaza Strip. A woman in the home was taken to the hospital for a panic attack. Photo: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Israel officials are saying that Operation Cast Lead has not ended because Hamas has not agreed to a cease fire and continues to fire rockets into Israel.

The weakening of Hamas and the restoration of Israel’s level of deterrence are needed before the fighting will end, officals say.

For the first time today, Israeli tanks are inside Gaza City in great numbers.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants of an “iron fist” unless they agree to Israel’s terms to end the fighting.

Hamas showed no signs of wavering, however, with its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, saying the militants were “closer to victory.”

Yet special Mideast envoy Tony Blair said elements were in place for a cease-fire.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni  told Mark Philips of CBS news, “We doubt that we will reoccupy” Gaza.  “But in the Middle East, sometimes all options are bad.”

“It is now a matter for the two in combat.  Neither one will leave the other the ‘victor,’” a United Nations humanitarian supply chief in Gaza told us.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Related:
Israel to Reoccupy Gaza?
Israel weighs options in Gaza
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Tuesday: Israel Crashes Into Gaza City
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UN chief Ban Ki-moon implores Israel and Hamas to stop Gaza violence

 

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 Day 18: Tuesday, Gaza City Battle Opens, “Neither one will leave the other the ‘victor’”

Gaza Cease Fire? Israel Clarifies Tough Stand

January 5, 2009

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Monday that the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip was intended to “change the equation” in the region, whereby Hamas fires at Israel and Israel responds with restraint.

Speaking to reporters alongside her counterparts from the Czech Republic, France and Sweden, Livni defended Israel’s incursion into the Hamas-ruled coastal territory as a form of “legitimate self-defense.”

From Haaretz Newspaper
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The foreign minister, who returned from Paris on Monday following talks with French officials, added that Israel has no choice but to retaliate when attacked.

Meanwhile, Czech FM Karel Schwarzenberg stressed the European Union’s stance that a cease-fire must be reached immediately between Israel and Gaza. Schwarzenberg said the EU rejected Israel’s approach that a truce could not be reached until the Israel Defense Forces had achieved all of its aims in Gaza.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak earlier Monday defended Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip, saying any nation seeking to survive would have taken the same form of action.

Prior to briefing the political-security cabinet on the situation in Gaza, Barak told Israeli radio station that while Hamas has suffered great losses under Israel’s air, sea and ground offensive, many of the military’s goals had yet to be achieved.

“Hamas has so far sustained a very heavy blow from us, but we have yet to achieve our objective and therefore the operation continues,” Barak said.

“The fundamental objective is to change the reality of security for the south,” Barak said, referring to Israeli towns that have come under continuous Palestinian rocket attack from Gaza.

“We are striving for a new reality in which there won’t be activity from Gaza against Israeli civilians or our soldiers, a situation which will dramatically change the state of smuggling and in which quiet will prevail in the south,” Barak added.

The defense minister also said he was certain that Israel would end its operation in Gaza “with an upper hand.” He added that Israel was engaged in diplomatic contacts with international officials regarding the operation.

As part of an eventual halt to the fighting, Israel is seeking help from international and regional partners to increase security along Gaza’s border with Egypt to prevent Hamas from rebuilding tunnels and rearming.

“It is clear Hamas cannot be allowed to rearm and we have to find workable solutions to prevent that rearming. And here our international and regional partners have a role to play,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Read the rest:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1052821.html

Israel Proving in Gaza It Can’t Handle Iran

January 3, 2009

Israel can’t handle Iran.  That’s the lesson being learned by Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

“The IDF must move quickly to disengage, in order to free its attention for the paramount task of preparing a military blow to Iran, if diplomacy and deterrence fail. As long as the great threat of Iranian power is hovering, the smaller threats of Hezbollah and Hamas that derive from it will not be dispelled. Cast lead, heavy as it may be, is still easier to digest than enriched uranium. ”

That’s the view from Amir Oren of Haaretz.

The looming question after a week of Israel’s pounding of Hamas in the Gaza is: How is Israel prepared politically, militarily and internationally to deal with a nuclear Iran, or to short circuit Iran’s efforts to become a nuclear power?

Politically, Israel doesn’t seem to have a united enough leadership to carry out a larger military operation than the comparitively basic effort of Gaza.  The Olmert, Barak, Livni team has struggled to stay on the same page this last week and ultimately had to sequester itself from news coverage that exposed the disagreements.

Militarily, the Israel Air Force has shown us what it already proved against Hezbollah in Lebanon.  Air Forces can pound the hell out of buildings and people can be killed but without “boots on the ground,” enemies stay lurking in the ruins.

Yaakov Katz writes in today’s Jerusalem Post, “As early as Monday, senior Military Intelligence officials, tasked with providing targets for the Air Force, were saying behind closed doors that the ‘air operation had exhausted itself,’ and that it was time for the next stage.”

The army of Israel has been held back, for any number of reasons.  But this itself begs countless questions.  Is the fear of Israeli Army casualties too great?  Will the Army lose men to hostage situations and only make the matter worse?  Is the army being saved for another day?

Internationally, it is not at all certain that Israel’s last week has gained it any new strength or friends.  George Bush will be gone in a few weeks and then the entire diplomatic situation can change.  And among regional neighbors, Israel’s move on Hamas has opened wounds in Egypt and elsewhere.

In the media, Israel seems to be losing as the humanitarian situation in Gaza worsens.

If Israel cannot resolve the Gaza situation to achieve its aims soon, confidence that it can ever counter Iran will disappear.

As actor Jack Nicholson played the role of  hot-headed Col. Nathan R. Jessep in the film, “A Few Good Men,” he said the line, “You can’t handle the truth.”

For Israel, the Gaza situation may leave lasting truths that have to be faced. 

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel,Virginia

Related:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1052025.html

From Yaakov Katz:
In Gaza, Israel Works To Create Perceptions on the Ground

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)