Archive for the ‘peace’ Category

Israel Wants Peace and To Be Free of Gaza; But Ready For Hamas Attacks

February 2, 2009

“Peace cannot be postponed for another four years,” President Shimon Peres of Israel said on Monday.

Next week Israelis will vote and elect a new government.  President Peres wants to make sure the next government seeks peace with both Hamas and the Palestinians.

Israel wants peace so that it doesn’t find itself responsible for the rehabilitation, administration, development and social welfare of Gaza.   

“It’s possible that Hamas will try its luck again. And Fatah won’t give up on its path,” he said, referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ rival movement. “We will need to choose between war on Hamas as a first option and pay its price, or progress in negotiations with the Palestinians – to expedite them, and complete them during the beginning of the next government’s term.”

But Peres added that, “It’s possible that we will need to combine the two, despite the contradiction.”

From The Jerusalem Post:

From Haaretz:


Obama urges Israel, Hamas to keep peace in Gaza

January 22, 2009

President Barack Obama is calling on Israel and Hamas to take steps aimed at ensuring that the cease-fire that’s in place in Gaza will endure. Weighing in on the conflict for the first time following his inauguration, Obama said that going forward, Hamas must end rocket fire at Israel, and Israel must “complete the withdrawal of its forces from Gaza.” Although those steps were taken this week, low-level violence has marred the fragile cease-fire.

Obama said his administration will support a “credible” system of ending smuggling into Gaza.

He said he’s “deeply concerned” by the loss of life among both Israelis and Palestinians, and by the suffering taking place in Gaza. He said his heart goes out to civilians who are going without food, water or medical care.

He said Gaza‘s borders should be opened to allow aid to come in, with “appropriate monitoring.”

–Associated Press

Mideast Needs a More Engaged U.S. to Help Broker Lasting Peace

January 18, 2009

The carnage in Gaza – where Palestinian women and children have died by the hundreds as Israel tries to stop Hamas from rocketing its cities – is a grim epitaph for U.S. policies that made a bad neighborhood worse.

So it is welcome news that President-elect Barack Obama says “starting on day one, we . . . are going to be immediately engaged in the Middle East peace process.” Such intense U.S. engagement is crucial. Without it, Israel’s invasion of Gaza could have consequences that threaten its very future – and the region as a whole.

Failing a new U.S. strategy, the Gaza war could mark the final blow to the concept of a “two-state solution.” That’s shorthand for an Israeli and Palestinian state living peacefully side by side.

You may think this idea is a fantasy, but reflect on the alternative: a “one-state solution,” in which Israel keeps control of more than three million Palestinian Arabs. Israel would then face two grim choices: Offer Palestinians the vote and soon lose its Jewish majority, or keep ruling millions of Palestinians by force and become a South Africa-type state.

Although Bush endorsed a two-state solution, he did little to promote it, letting the peace process languish until the end of his second term. Bush categorically backed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whose unilateral withdrawal from Gaza strengthened Hamas and undercut those who wanted peace talks.

The administration was solely focused on Iraq, even as Gaza became a virtual prison camp with all borders controlled by Israel. Nor did the administration press Israel to cease expanding settlements on the West Bank.

Under such conditions, Palestinians turned toward Hamas – which at least provided social services. Young Palestinians and intellectuals now talk increasingly about the “one-state solution.” Meantime, Hamas’ rocketing of Israeli towns has further soured Israelis on the idea of two states.

So Obama will take office as the very idea of two states is dying.

The Gaza war has badly undermined those moderate Arabs who still support the concept, such as Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, and the rulers in Jordan and Egypt.

Read the rest:

Gaza: Time To End The Fight, “Passed the Point of Diminishing Returns”

January 16, 2009

We agree that Israel had to defend itself against Hamas’s rocket attacks. But we fear the assault on Gaza has passed the point of diminishing returns. It is time for a cease-fire with Hamas and a return to the peace negotiations that are the only real hope for guaranteeing Israel’s long-term security.

New York Times Editorial

We are encouraged that a cease-fire finally seems to be gaining traction. Although not much detail is known, reports have focused on an Egyptian proposal for a phased-in truce, followed by a pullout of Israeli forces and the reopening of border crossings to ease the economic blockade of Gaza.

The sudden diplomatic activity came as Israel unleashed its heaviest shelling of Gaza neighborhoods, including a hit on a United Nations compound where hundreds of Palestinians had taken shelter.

Israeli officials acknowledge that the 20-day offensive has not permanently crippled Hamas’s military wing or ended its ability to launch rocket attacks. It is unlikely that Israel can achieve those aims militarily any time soon. The cost in human life and anti-Israeli fury would be enormous. Already more than 1,000 Palestinians have died in the densely populated Gaza Strip, where an always miserable life has become unbearable. Thirteen Israelis have died.

We also fear that the war is further weakening the palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and his Fatah faction — Hamas’s sworn enemy. We know Mr. Abbas’s limitations, but he believes in a two-state solution. If there is going to be a negotiated peace, he is the best hope.

As part of a cease-fire deal, Israel is right to demand a permanent halt to Hamas’s rocket fire. Israel is also right not to rely on Hamas’s promises. Hamas used the last cease-fire to restock its arsenal with weapons ferried in through tunnels dug under the Egypt-Gaza border.

The best protection would be to place monitors on the Egypt-Gaza border to stop the smuggling that is Hamas’s lifeline. The Israelis also must be ready to ease their blockade of Gaza to allow more food and normal economic activity.

The Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, is expected in Washington on Friday where she will sign a hastily arranged deal to accept United States equipment and technical assistance to help monitor the Israeli-Gaza border.

American and Israeli officials say that Israel would never accept a cease-fire without that help and both are eager to heap praise on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for making it happen. But Washington could have provided that assistance years ago — just as it should have been pressing harder on every aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

President-elect Barack Obama says he will work for a peace deal from Day 1. We hope Israel picks a new leader in elections next month who is truly committed to a two-state solution. With the support of the new American president, he or she must make an early downpayment on peace by ending settlement construction, cooperating seriously with Mr. Abbas and improving the lives of all Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza.

France’s President Nicholas Sarkozy Seeks Peace in Gaza

January 5, 2009

France’s President Nicholas Sarkozy is no longer President of the European Union, a rotating appoinment that ended on December 31.

But that has not stopped sarkozy from going where he believes he is needed:  during the next few day Sarkozy will be in Egypt, the West Bank, Tel Aviv, Jordan, and Syria, where he will meet with President Bashar al-Assad.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, reacts, with Palestinian ... 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, reacts, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas upon his arrival in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009 as part of his two-day Middle East trip to seek ‘paths for peace’ in Gaza. Sarkozy left for Israel and the Palestinian territories where he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who lost control of Gaza to Hamas in June 2007.(AP Photo/Francois Mori, Pool)
According to the Christian Sciences Monitor: “Sarkozy hosted Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Paris last week. Sarkozy works well with Washington, and French diplomacy has ties to Arabs, Palestinians, and the Islamist movement. He can talk with Syria. Moreover, Sarkozy’s criticism of Israel’s response to Hamas rockets puts him closer to core EU views than with Prague‘s,” (the Czech President is now in charge of the EU).
See the Christian Science Monitor report:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: Can He Regain Gaza?


Pope’s Message of Peace, Stability: Warns of Ruin in Selfishness

December 25, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI has called for peace in the Middle East and stability in Africa in his Christmas Day message.

Speaking from the Vatican, the Pope prayed for the opponents of the “twisted logic of conflict and violence” to prevail in the Holy Land.


The Pope decried instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan and Somalia, and lamented the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans.

He also called for solidarity in the face of an ever more uncertain future.

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates christmas night holy mass at the ... 

Read more:


By FRANCES D’EMILIO, Associated Press Writer

Pope Benedict XVI in his Christmas message Thursday warned that the world was headed toward ruin if selfishness prevails over solidarity during tough economic times for both rich and poor nations.

Speaking from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on the day Christians commemorate Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, Benedict declared that the “heart of the Christian message is meant for all men and women.”

The traditional papal Christmas Day message “Urbi et Orbi” — Latin for “to the City and to the World” — usually covers the globe’s hot spots, but this year Benedict also addressed the gloomy economic conditions worrying many across the planet.

Amid near daily news of layoffs, failing companies and people losing homes they can no longer afford in many parts of the world, Benedict’s words seemed tailored in part to the global economic crisis.

He said his Christmas message also applied to “wherever an increasingly uncertain future is regarded with apprehension, even in affluent nations.”

Read the rest:

Clinton Moves To Widen Role of State Department

December 23, 2008

Even before taking office, Hillary Rodham Clinton is seeking to build a more powerful State Department, with a bigger budget, high-profile special envoys to trouble spots and an expanded role in dealing with global economic issues at a time of crisis.

The New York Times
Mrs. Clinton is recruiting Jacob J. Lew, the budget director under President Bill Clinton, as one of two deputies, according to people close to the Obama transition team. Mr. Lew’s focus, they said, will be on increasing the share of financing that goes to the diplomatic corps. He and James B. Steinberg, a deputy national security adviser in the Clinton administration, are to be Mrs. Clinton’s chief lieutenants.

Nominations of deputy secretaries, like Mrs. Clinton’s, would be subject to confirmation by the Senate.

The incoming administration is also likely to name several envoys, officials said, reviving a practice of the Clinton administration, when Richard C. Holbrooke, Dennis Ross and other diplomats played a central role in mediating disputes in the Balkans and the Middle East.

As Mrs. Clinton puts together her senior team, officials said, she is also trying to carve out a bigger role for the State Department in economic affairs, where the Treasury has dominated during the Bush years. She has sought advice from Laura D’Andrea Tyson, an economist who headed Mr. Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers.

The steps seem intended to strengthen the role of diplomacy after a long stretch, particularly under Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in which the Pentagon, the vice president’s office and even the intelligence agencies held considerable sway over American foreign policy.

Given Mrs. Clinton’s prominence, expanding the department’s portfolio could bring on conflict with other powerful cabinet members.

Mrs. Clinton and President-elect Barack Obama have not settled on specific envoys or missions, although Mr. Ross’s name has been mentioned as a possible Middle East envoy, as have those of Mr. Holbrooke and Martin Indyk, a former United States ambassador to Israel.

The Bush administration has made relatively little use of special envoys. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has personally handled most peacemaking initiatives, which has meant a punishing schedule of Middle East missions, often with meager results.

Read the rest:

Pakistan’s President: ‘We Must Get Past Mumbai, Make Peace With India’

December 9, 2008

Pakistan’s president said Tuesday the peace process with India must move forward to “foil the designs of the terrorists” who killed 171 people in Mumbai last month.

Asif Ali Zardari also vowed to crack down on anyone involved in the attacks who was residing in Pakistan, saying a raid Sunday on a training camp run by the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba group was evidence of his resolve.

By CHRIS BRUMMITT, Associated Press Writer

President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari looks on during a press ...

“Pakistan is committed to the pursuit, arrest, trial and punishment of anyone involved in these heinous attacks,” he wrote in an opinion piece for The New York Times.

Sunday’s raid in Pakistani Kashmir was Islamabad’s first reported response to intense Indian and U.S demands for it to act against alleged perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks on its soil.

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who India has said was a mastermind of the assaults, and several other members of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba were arrested, an intelligence official and a senior government official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

The government has not officially released the names of those it is holding.

Read the rest: