Saudi Arabia Calls on its nationals to leave Lebanon

The Saudi Arabian embassy in Beirut has called on its nationals to leave Lebanon
a day after a US warship was positioned off the country's coast. 
SATURDAY, MARCH 01, 2008
19:16 MECCA TIME, 16:16 GMT

Kuwait and Bahrain followed with similar calls Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia is a major supporter of the Sunni-led government in Lebanon which has been locked in a 15-month-old political standoff with an opposition led by Iranian-and-Syrian backed Hezbollah. Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, has denied asking the US to deploy the warship USS Cole and two support ships amid the country's continuing political deadlock. Siniora reportedly summoned the US ambassador on Friday for an explanation. Siniora said: "We did not request any warships from any party."

He also stressed the importance of Lebanon's independence and sovereignty "so that it will not become an arena for the conflicts of regional and international powers" Siniora said there are no warships in Lebanese territorial waters, except Lebanon's small navy – made up of patrol boats – and the 12 warships belonging to a UN peacekeeping force.

US position

According to Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman, Washington has had "regular consultations" with Siniora and other US allies in the region.

"There's constant communications at various levels," he said.

The US declined to say whether the decision to deploy the USS Cole was a show of force aimed at Syria, which it has accused of interfering in Lebanon.

Lebanon's governing coalition and the Hezbollah-led opposition have failed to reach a deal over the election of a new president.

A senior US official said Washington was "very concerned" about the situation in Lebanon and called the move "support for regional stability".
"The United States believes a show of support is important for regional stability," the official said.
Gaza link

Nabih Berri, the parliament speaker, who is aligned with the opposition, has linked the deployment of the warships to Israel's raids in the Gaza Strip.
"The target [of US warships] is Gaza. It is aimed to allow what must happen in Gaza to happen without anyone moving to support [the Palestinians]," he said.

"This is a real threat, not merely a muscle-flexing."

Berri also said that the US military move was designed to focus attention on Lebanon "in order to cover up the massacres being committed in Gaza".

"This [US] fleet comes to back Israel so that it can complete its plan," he said.

'Gun boat diplomacy'

 

Earlier, Richard Murphy, a former US ambassador to Syria, told Al Jazeera that the move was a sign that the US did not know what to do about Lebanon.

 

Earlier, Richard Murphy, a former US ambassador to Syria, told Al Jazeera that the move was a sign that the US did not know what to do about Lebanon.

"It is gunboat diplomacy. I think it would be more useful for the US to find a way to engage with the conflicting parties in Lebanon.
"We have no dialogue with Syria and this is a moment for dialogue." 
Seventeen US sailors were killed in October 2000 when the USS Cole was attacked off the coast of Yemen by al-Qaeda fighters.

Comments (123)


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101. offended said:

Farid, (Al Ghadri?)
What uprising are you talking about?
I only saw two guys running in the dark and pasting papers here and there…
They’ve even stuck those propaganda papers on the university printing press, I wonder how politically savvy are those who are working on maintaining the printing machines.

And what’s with the cheap glue? I mean, couldn’t Khaddam do better than that?

What do you expect to achieve through all this drama?

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March 3rd, 2008, 5:15 pm

 

102. Nour said:

“The Damascus Summit….it will be a tourist trip for the attendants, starting with receptions, handshakes, and fiery speeches before ending with “nothing” which is exactly what Syria and its allies want.”

This is a really funny quote by Jamil Thiyabi because it actually implies that any Arab Summit has ever produced anything but receptions, handshakes, and speeches. Of course the rest of the article is empty of anything really substantive and relies solely on anti-Syria propaganda that repeats the same tired arguments of how Syria is all-evil and KSA is all-good. Of course the writer forgets to mention that KSA actively aided in the occupation and destruction of Iraq while Syria stood firmly against the US invasion. He neglects the fact that KSA does not dare even issue a statement condemning Israel in its onslaught of Palestinians and Lebanese, while Syria has repeatedly and contiously aided and supported the Resistance. He fails to remind the readers that it is the Saudi Wahhabi school that has produced the extremism prevalent in the middle east today. So just what positions in support of Arabs and Arab stability is Jamil alluding to?

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March 3rd, 2008, 5:19 pm

 

103. offended said:

Re: Farid and his video:
I mean, I feel sorry for you guys…you are putting your lives on the line for what?

Are you sure the NSF represents the right formula of reform for Syria at this moment?

I hope someone is not taking you for a ride…

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March 3rd, 2008, 5:22 pm

 

104. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Qunfuz,

My view is that you better make peace with Israel while you can before radical islam makes the Arab countries completely obselete. On its way up and on its way down, radical Islam will leave nothing but ashes from the Arab world, especially of Syria and Egypt making Israel the grand winner in the middle east.

Who is right? Only the future will tell.

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March 3rd, 2008, 5:52 pm

 

105. Qifa Nabki said:

I know you keep repeating that you are not a M14 supporter, but all your arguments are pure M14 talking points.

Nour, you’ve blown my cover! How did you do it? The US/M14 sent me here to eliminate any resistance on this blog, just like they killed al-Hariri to eliminate any resistance in Lebanon.

I really believe that it is quite obtuse and shortsighted to think that Syria is obstructing in Lebanon, when it is clear that the opposition has clear demands that it refuses to give up.

Explain to me how having clear demands is mutually exclusive with obstructionism? How can you prove that the majority’s clear demands amount to obstructionism while the opposition’s don’t?

You still approach this issue on the assumption that Syria has been the one being belligerent and obstructive all this time, whil the US and KSA are only now responding to Syria’s own harsh positions. Well, in my view, this is the exact opposite of what is happening.

Nour, could you provide some evidence to back up your conclusions? Otherwise, they are just personal opinions. That’s the problem with the current standoff in Lebanon. Each side’s position is a mirror of the opposite side’s. Group A and Group B mutually accuse each other of: being the puppets of foreign powers, receiving their aid and marching orders from outside, deepening the sectarian divisions, not acting in the best interests of Lebanon, etc. And both sides can point to a million reasons as evidence, and many of these reasons are true, while others are partly true, and still others are pure propaganda.

Does this make me a March 14 supporter, when I criticize the tactics of both sides? If it does, then I guess you believe anyone who deviates from your own theses by a tiny smidgen is a March 14 supporter. Basita.

The US has been basically ordering the Lebanese loyalists to remain firm in their positions and not give in to the oppositions, as the US has a clear goal of eliminating the resistance in Lebanon.

If that’s the case, then why did the Americans invite Syria to Annapolis? Why did they give in on Suleiman’s candidacy? And explain to me why Nabih Berri, during his speech at the Moussa Sadr commemoration at Baalbek last September, agreed to give up the “clear demand” for a veto in exchange for agreement on the consensus candidate? These demands you cite are obviously not so clear, as the opposition decided to backtrack after March 14 called their bluff.

Moreover, I am completely convinced that the Hariri assassination and the ones that followed were planned and orchestrated not by Syria, but by the US/Israel, with Saudi help.

Wow, you’re even more special than I thought. I think you used the word “twisted” when describing me and HP recently. I can’t think of a better adjective to describe the scenario you are proposing. Habibi Nour, let me ask you one simple question:

If the axis of evil (US-KSA-Israel) was so dead-set on framing Syria by systematically eliminating the leading lights of a pro-Western government (i.e. not just Rafiq al-Hariri, but also such figures as Gibran Tueni, Pierre Gemayel, Samir Kassir, etc.) then what brand of idiocy would possess them to wait for an official and impartial international investigation to incriminate Syria? If they’re going to go to the trouble of liquidating their allies, you’d think that they would have followed through and made sure that they were rewarded for it by toppling Asad by force.

Now you’re going to tell me that this was the plan, and Bashar foiled it. Of course… how could I be so naive?

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March 3rd, 2008, 6:49 pm

 

106. Shai said:

Qunfuz,

You made many points, so I’ll try to respond to most, if not all:

1. “Just Get Out”. For the past 20 years, since the first Intifada, I’ve been for unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank. Just like you said, I too believed we should “just leave”. And let the Palestinians do with their territories whatever they like – turn it into a country, a battleground between families or local “warlords”, whatever. It isn’t ours to begin with, and it should be given back to its owners, regardless of how organized or capable they may be in receiving it. And then, this suddenly changed. With the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, the Palestinians were no longer unified, or under one governing body. Now, if it was a different party that took over, even by force, I may still say “let’s still just leave”. But as it happens, it is Hamas, that still calls for the annihilation of Israel. You can tell me that Hamas has offered Israel this and that until you’re blue in the face, but all it has ever offered was a time-out (what you call a “ceasefire”). Clearly, this time out would not be used for peaceful negotiations, as Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist here (regardless of how much you or I would like to think that it does). Instead, this time out would clearly be used for rearming, and getting ready for the next round. This is, in fact, what has always happened during these “recesses” or “ceasefires”. So now I ask you to put yourself in my shoes, and do try to be honest, would you withdraw unilaterally, knowing there’s a very good chance that this same Hamas could force a takeover of the West Bank as well, and now, instead of having its Qassams only south of Israel, would have it facing almost every major city and town, and in very short proximity. We would be enabling a party that in the most clear fashion calls for our annihilation, to control the territory closest to us? Does that make sense to you? Imagine Lebanon was not a country yet. Imagine that Hezbollah was Syria’s sworn enemy and, in fact, called for Syria’s annihilation. Can you imagine Syria pulling its troops out unilaterally, when this is the situation on the ground? Never. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting that staying in the West Bank is good for Israel – it’s not. I’m not suggesting we should try to eliminate Hamas, and put in power only someone we like – that would be a mistake. Instead, I am suggesting that we stop discussing anything formally with the PA right now, that we let the Palestinians work out their differences, and decide on one single body that can be in charge of their territories, and then, if that body is willing to recognize Israel (like the PLO did, and Fatah, and others), then of course we should withdraw, even before reaching an agreement.

2. Break from Violence. I referred to “all of us” needing a break, not just Israel. Clearly, those who suffer the most need it even more badly than us Israelis do. If you read any of my many comments, I think you’d find that I tend to see the equation of who is suffering more, quite correctly, despite the difficulty this may have on an average Israeli.

3. Democratic Israel-Palestine. Once upon a time I, like Qadaffi, actually thought that Israelis and Palestinians should live in one state (“Israstine”, as the Libyan colonel called it). I thought it made the most sense geopolitically. But there is one main problem with this. It would mean the end of Israel as a “jewish state”. Now while I think that down the line, once we have peace in the region, there is a good chance that after 10-15 years, Israelis will stop fearing their existence as a Jewish people, and may see the benefits of opening up Israel, as part of what I called a UME (United Middle East), to anyone wishing to live and work here. But we’re nowhere near this yet. Most Israelis still suffer from real fear (very likely as a result of the Holocaust) that there will not be a place for Jews to escape to, should the need ever arise. This is a deep emotional scar that needs to heal, and the Arab-Israeli conflict obviously has not helped in that regard. Again, Israelis need to see themselves living at peace with Arabs for a while, to finally feel safe. And then, I’m still hoping, we’ll be able to help form this so-called UME.

4. Feeling Despair. While I really am truly sorry that my words cause you to feel despair, I would have hoped that mine would cause you to feel some hope. I do understand your legitimate frustration when faced with a “dovish” Israeli telling you that he wants to see more done by the weaker side (the Arabs) than by his own, but I am only voicing this hope (from Assad, as I’ve stated) because at this very moment, our leadership is, quite simply, impotent. They are stuck so high up Washington rear-end, that they cannot do what is necessary for this region’s desperately needed peace. So what shall I do? Run in the streets yelling “Israel, wake up!”? If I thought that could help, I would do so right now, instead of typing these words to you. Instead, I’m here to try to better understand your side, to try to somewhat explain mine, and more importantly, to find a way to bridge our gaps right now. The solution, by the way, is not going to be a just one. It’s not. Hopefully, it’ll be a smart one, that will enable us to finally withdraw to the 1967 line. The two withdrawals that are left are the West Bank, and the Golan. The first is almost impossible to do right now, as I’ve explained above. The second, I believe, is the easiest, which is why we need to resume talks with Syria, immediately. Peace with Syria will create the kind of positive-pressure on both Israelis and Palestinians to finally figure it out. It is perhaps possible that Hamas will recognize Israel, and that we’ll be sitting at the same table 2-3 years from now, just like the same could happen with Hezbollah. Justice, will come a generation or two after we have peace, when forgiveness and reconciliation will begin. That will not occur tomorrow morning, unfortunately.

As a last note, Qunfuz, I want to simply tell you that while I completely understand your feelings, and the legitimacy that follows them, I still implore upon you the strength required to believe in peace, and to push the message to others. If we give up, if we surrender to our emotions (regardless of how justified they may or may not be), then we’re simply allowing the river of pain and suffering this region is experiencing for so long to carry us right down with it. Instead, we must force ourselves out of this river, if need be by swimming against the current, in order to reach the safe shores we all seek. Only strength and courage will enable us to achieve peace. And we mustn’t leave it merely to our “leaders”. It must also begin here, with us.

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March 3rd, 2008, 7:07 pm

 

107. offended said:

Enlightened,

After a lot of thinking and brooding over my options…..

I made up my mind….

And I am not going back on it….

As tragic as this may sound; I found this to be the appropriate character for me in ‘Team America’ (the guy with the beard and turban to the bottom left).

But I will only agree to play if the belly dancer in the photo is as good as shown!

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March 3rd, 2008, 8:06 pm

 

108. Enlightened said:

Ya Offened:

Thats fine role play is important; QN wanted to be the belly dancer, so you might want to reconsider.

AIG: will play the dictator!

Akbar:

I will concede the democracy bit about Iraq, the planning and aftermath of the war has been a disaster however.

Co existence is a two street, you shouldnt generalize about the Arabs not wanting to live side by side with Israel, there are plenty on your side of the fence that feel the same. Hopefully when these two voices are a minority in the debate, co existence can be assured.

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March 3rd, 2008, 9:51 pm

 

109. qunfuz said:

Shai – thanks for your reply. I agree with a lot of it, but I think your analysis of point one needs answering. Please come back to this thread this evening, when I’ll have time to respond.

Very best wishes

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March 4th, 2008, 5:20 am

 

110. Shai said:

Hi Qunfuz,

Sorry, am only back now (07:55 am, Israel time), and I’m not sure what time zone you’re on, so I don’t what “evening” is for you… I’ll continue to check this thread for your response. Thanks.

Shai.

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March 4th, 2008, 5:56 am

 

111. why-discuss said:

Shai

Do you think a Bibi or Barak governement would withdraw from the Golan to create that positive dynamic we all hope for? I just wish they withdraw peacefully thus allowing the arabs and the international community to claim it as a success of diplomacy. Of course some arab countries (anti-syrian) would be displeased calling Bashar a traitor and the radical palestinians in Damascus would have to review their stance and ultimately be brought in a real peace process. Bashar is strong enough and have shown an amazing empathy to allow Syria to be throughout the years a safe haven for Palestinians, Iraqis and Lebanese fleeing oppression and wars in their countries. No one can blame him for his generosity to the palestinians refugees and the millions of iraqis that the “human right-good-hearted’ Western countries has shamefully refused to save from been exterminated in a war they have have themselves brought upon this population. Arabs and muslims have a good memory and remain faithful to leaders that showed them compassion in time of distress.

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March 4th, 2008, 12:25 pm

 

112. qunfuz said:

Shai – I’m in Oman, so my evening is two hours earlier than yours.

Hamas has offered two different kinds of ceasefires. It has offered an immediate and mutual ‘time out’, which has been rejected by Israel. This would give both sides the break you rightly say is needed, even if Hamas uses it to reorganise (isn’t the IDF constantly reorganising/ rearming?). It has also offered a long-term ‘hudna’ in the event of an Israeli withdrawal from the 67 lands. Some Hamas leaders have said that the conflict thereafter would become ‘cultural’ rather than military; in other words, they would try to persuade Israelis of the benefits of a unified state, or try to peacefully convert the Jews to Islam (!). It is true that Hamas refuses to accept Israel as a Jewish state on principle, because this implies recognising the ‘justice’ of the ethnic cleansing of 47 and 48. I think I agree with Hamas here on principle, but I also disagree with having a Muslim state in Palestine, or anywhere else, which is their ultimate aim.

Their perspective on the Jewish state is at least understandable, and more importantly, can be worked with even by supporters of the Jewish state. A British/Irish parallel is the IRA, which on principle will not renounce its ultimate aim of a united socialist Ireland, but which has renounced the armed struggle as a way of achieving it and now sits in consultation with its Protestant/ loyalist opponents. Despite its refusal to recognise the partition of Ireland, it is recognised as a partner. It is entirely possible that in the future there will be a unified Ireland, once the communities have learned to like each other. Or there may not be. But people with diametrically opposed hopes for the future are able to work together.

I understand that Israeli Jews who (very unfortunately) want to live in a Jewish state will remain worried by the thinking represented by Hamas, that all of Palestine should be a Muslim state. (They are worried because of memories of the Holocaust, yes, and also because the ‘Muslim’ state is a mirror of the ‘Jewish’ state – I think there’s some unconscious guilt at work). Anyway – what you need to do is remove Hamas’s support base, by leaving the West Bank and east Jerusalem now. Hamas’s victory is a product of the occupation and a product of the failure of the so-called ‘peace process.’ If Israel had left the West Bank after the first intifada it wouldn’t be facing Hamas now. (Today’s Syriacomment suggests that if it weren’t for US-Israeli meddling, there wouldn’t be a breakaway regime in Gaza either). As I’m sure you know, the Palestinians are not natural fundamentalists. In fact they have a history of being far more tolerant and non-sectarian than the Lebanese and Syrians! Of course, there will always be a few angry Islamist Palestinians, as there’ll always be groups of fundamentalist bring-on-the-apocalypse Jews, but these groups are marginal in normal circumstances. A magnanimous withdrawal and conciliatory gestures will quickly bring about a fall in support for violence, and will make Hamas irrelevant. Keep the occupation going, on the other hand, and you guarantee the continued strengthening of Hamas, or perhaps much worse.

best wishes

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March 4th, 2008, 1:46 pm

 

113. Qifa Nabki said:

Shai: I’m going to post a question to you on the most recent thread.

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March 4th, 2008, 2:34 pm

 

114. Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

I believe that both Barak and Bibi want to withdraw from the Golan, as part of a peace settlement with Syria. Both have, in fact, tried to negotiate with Syria in the past, and failed (for a variety of reasons, which we won’t go into now). Both men love themselves enough, that they want to be written down in the history books of Israel not as total failures (as they were in their last go round as PM’s), but indeed as the men who brought peace to the region. So there’s good hope on the horizon. As I’ve written before in one of these threads, I’m not at all sure that Barak will get a second chance. Bibi’s popularity has sky-rocketed since his party’s utter failure in the previous elections. People in Israel are fed up with Olmert and Barak, see them as complete failures in bringing peace and security to their people, and may well be ready to give the Likud another chance. I’ve also said before that there are a number of absurds in Israelis politics, which may cause Bibi to be a favorite also for the Arab side. First, in most nations, the Left tend to be liberal pragmatists, and the Right conservative ideologues. In Israel, it’s the opposite. Second, in Israel, a leader of the Right can much more easily give land back to the Arabs, because he knows he has most of the nation behind him (see Begin, Bibi, and Sharon). So while it is the Left that constantly voices its will to make peace, and respect the Arabs, and end our conflict, and the Right continuously voices reasons for not doing so yet, it is in fact the latter than once achieving power can deliver quickly, whereas the first can barely get 50% support of all Israelis (because all those on the Right will reject it).

If we merely listened to the rhetoric of the Right, we’d never in our wildest dreams imagine Begin giving up on the Sinai, or Bibi handing control of major cities to the Palestinians (and negotiating a withdrawal from the Golan with Hafez Assad), or certainly Ariel Sharon, the “Butcher of Lebanon”, ordering the complete withdrawal of all Israelis settlements and IDF troops out of Gaza, as a mere first-stage before the compete withdrawal also from the West Bank. So all-in-all, I’m still optimistic that we can find the next leader very willing to withdraw from the Golan. He won’t seem that way until he’s elected, he’ll make sounds of war and threats, and power, in order to get himself elected, but once in power, he’ll whistle to the tunes of Damascus, or Washington, or anyone who’ll promise him a “good spot” on the History Book of the world… 🙂

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March 4th, 2008, 7:28 pm

 

115. Shai said:

Qunfuz,

I completely agree with you! The example you used with the IRA is excellent. So why can’t Hamas follow that example, recognize Israel so that it can discuss peace with it (not a mere “Hudna”, which would never be accepted by Israelis, that’s just the reality of it – we’re not accustomed to that frame of thought – we either have peace, or we don’t, there’s no middle ground). No one would ask Hamas to do away with its dreams of a Muslim Palestine. No one would ask it to stop dreaming of a one-state solution. As I’ve mentioned before, if I had to guess what our region looks like 20-25 years from now, after there’s peace, I’d say we’re a UME (United Middle East), looking something like an in between of the US and the EU. Open borders, citizens of the UME able to work and live wherever they choose, etc. I can’t even blame Hamas for wanted to turn us Jews into Muslims – why not, I’m sure many religious Jews could want nothing better than to convert Muslims to Judaism. At the end of the day, we’re both descendants of the same father Abraham, and personally, I have no problem if most of my friends are from this religion, or the other. If right this instant, I knew that by converting to Islam I could bring about peace in this region, I’d be on my way to Mecca to do the Haj, and you and I could meet there if you like… 🙂 But on a serious note, I really do think that if Hamas wants to play a major role in the future of Palestine, it’ll have to accept Israel, and not merely play with words (“Hudna”, etc.) We’re not asking to be accepted as a Jewish state only, but we do need Hamas to at least sit with us at the table. As I’ve mentioned before, we could, and should withdraw unilaterally from the West Bank (and E. Jerusalem), as soon as there’s a “boss in town that can deliver”. Fatah and Hamas must work out their differences, so that there’s one guy ruling both territories. We cannot reach an agreement with Abu Mazen, because he cannot deliver. He barely controls Ramallah, let alone the rest of the West Bank. How can we withdraw right this second? What if Hamas took over the West Bank by force, and then had its Qassams not aimed merely at a few small towns in Southern Israel, but indeed at most major cities here? No Israeli leader in his right mind would allow that to happen (and I believe no leader anywhere in the world), given that Hamas doesn’t recognize us, and still calls for our annihilation. Once that changes, I’m for an immediate, unilateral withdrawal, even before an agreement is reached. After all, it is very much in Israel’s interest to withdraw, not only in conjunction with the Palestinians. You can read more of that rationale in what I wrote to Qifa Nabki on the newest thread (p=610, I believe). Hope I managed to answer some of your points…

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March 4th, 2008, 7:44 pm

 

116. Rdj said:

Those who think that the US kind of upper hand in ME affairs is always a good office, are simply leeches or blind and corrupt. If the US can have nice bilaterl relations with any country, it is difficult for everyone to settle large conflictual crises with no unbiased attitude. This needs the good offices of international communities. No, there’s no good in overhrowing other’s regimes, should they be dictatorships, because this is called forced intervention which wipes at democracy with one stick. Th US ship is there- a child could see it- to cool down any Libaneese intention to support Hamas, and as the best example of the many plots against them all in this part of the world. When IDF kills in Gaza, a US ship is next door, and a wind of sanctions blows against the Muslim countries. What a blessed world!

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March 5th, 2008, 5:24 am

 

117. qunfuz said:

Well, Shai, we’re a little closer to agreement, but at this stage all I can do is reiterate a few points:

1. Hamas is ready to talk, but only after there have been concrete Israeli moves to end the occupation of the West Bank. This is because the ‘peace process’ was revealed as a cover for the continued dispossession of the Palestinians. The elections showed that most Palestinians agree with Hamas’s position here.

2. Hamas won’t give you more than a ‘hudna’ – just as the IRA has refused to recognise the legitimacy of a separate Northern Ireland. There are, however, real signs that Hamas would be willing to see the ‘conflict’ resume in the medium to long term in a non-violent way. Sometimes you have to accustom yourself to an unfamiliar way of thought if you are going to deal productively with someone else.

3. But of course Israeli Jews want more than a hudna and the possibility that the conflict will become cultural. So undercut Hamas support. Make the armed struggle irrelevant. Most Palestinians, like most of any nation, want their children to live in a safe and hopeful environment. If they aren’t driven by despair to armed resistance they will choose peaceful coexistence. As the occupier, Israel is the one in a position to take the initiative here.

4. Continued occupation will strengthen uncompromising resistance movements. The Gaza missiles have slowly but surely extended their range and effectiveness despite numerous IDF incursions, assassinations and bombing raids. Occupation cannot control this threat except sometimes in the short term. Hamas is much more likely to take over the West Bank under occupation than the West Bank free. And in any case I wouldn’t expect the IDF to disarm itself the day after a withdrawal.

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March 5th, 2008, 5:45 am

 

118. Shai said:

Qunfuz,

I agree that since Israel is the occupier, it should be in a position to take the initiative. The situation, though, has gotten that much more complicated, with the Gaza takeover by Hamas. I disagree that Hamas wants to talk. I don’t blame it, but all it wants is a time-out in which to regroup, reorganize, and rearm itself. Given Hamas’s recent “record”, why would Israel want to give it this time-out? True, sometimes you need to readjust your ways of thinking, if you want to reach an agreement. But in this case, no Israeli in his right mind would discuss anything with someone still calling for his annihilation. I don’t think that’s too strange, is it? Put yourself in my shoes, would YOU talk to someone like that?

I also disagree that Hamas is less likely to take over the West Bank if the IDF pulled out. Though I’m completely against the IDF continuing to rule the West Bank, there’s no doubt it is helping protect Fatah from another takeover. I agree with you, that continued occupation will only strengthen the resistance, and the extremists. We have a real tough one on our hands. It was so much easier before 2005. We could, and should, have left the territories years ago. We’ll see how we find the formula that will enable us to withdraw this time, but it won’t be easy I’m afraid.

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March 5th, 2008, 6:10 am

 

119. qunfuz said:

Why would Israel want to give Hamas a time out? And why would the Palestinians want to give Israel even a moment to lick its wounds, such as they are? You say hamas is calling for the annhilation of Israelis, which is not quite true. It is, logically, against the aprtheid state which has been set up on the ruins of Palestine. Meanwhile, the Israeli deputy defence minister calls for a shoah in Gaza. Another official calls for ‘wiping a neighbourhood off the map.’ (same language that got all the rats salivating for war against Iran, except Ahmedinejad was misquoted). One of your MKs today told Arab MKs that one day the Arabs would be kicked out of Israel. Israelis don’t just talk about annhilating Palestine, they’ve already done it. And Arabs should talk to you??

Of course we should, because you’re there. And you should talk to us, whatever threats we use against you.

By the way, an important difference between Northern Ireland and Palestine is this: the conflict in Ireland is the legacy of British colonialism. In Palestine, the colonialism, confiscation, direct occupation, exclusion of refugees, is still continuing.

good article on the present fight in Gaza here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/mar/05/israelandthepalestinians.usa

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March 5th, 2008, 3:03 pm

 

120. qunfuz said:

From that Seumas Milne article:

“The third, commonsense option, backed by 64% of Israelis, is to take up Hamas’s offer – repeated by its leader Khalid Mish’al at the weekend – and negotiate a truce. It’s a move that now attracts not only left-leaning Israeli politicians such as Yossi Beilin, but also a growing number of rightwing establishment figures, including Ariel Sharon’s former security adviser Giora Eiland, the former Mossad boss Efraim Halevy, and the ex-defence minister Shaul Mofaz.”

Surprisingly Shai, it seems you’re to the right of the 64% of Israelis on this.

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March 5th, 2008, 3:06 pm

 

121. Shai said:

Qunfuz,

Ok, I won’t let you get me into this corner… 🙂 If I’m to the right of 64% of Israelis, you and I can go have coffee tomorrow morning in Souq Hamidieh. You’re right, in a recent poll 2/3 of those asked did say they’re willing to talk to Hamas. I am, too, by the way. But such talks will lead nowhere if both sides call for the annihilation of the other. Why is it that we could speak with Arafat, despite the rhetoric by the PLO for years? Precisely because he changed his rhetoric one day. If Hamas is willing to talk about peace, not about a Hudna, then I’ll be the first to await them at the table. I don’t believe in time-outs, in “ceasefires”, or in any such gimmick. Unlike Syria, who is sincere about wanting to have peace with Israel, Hamas does not want to have peace with us, does not want to recognize anything about us, and is so adamant on remaining an extremist, that there’s no reason to expect a change in policy anytime soon. I hope of course that I’m wrong. I’m always willing to be proven wrong. I just fear that in this case I may be right about the unlikelihood of Hamas turning a page. Having said that, I am certainly not for eliminating Hamas, even if theoretically it was possible. Israel has no right to influence the internal affairs of the Palestinian people. That is why I believe it’s a huge mistake to arm Fatah in its battle against Hamas. We may not like the results of the internal conflict the Palestinians are experiencing now, but that’s the right of any people on earth, to choose whoever they want as their government, and as their leaders. For war to occur, it takes only one party. But for peace, it takes two sides. And both have to recognize each other, at least in the most basic way. Let Hamas show it is willing to recognize us, and then I believe you’ll have us waiting at the table.

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March 5th, 2008, 7:10 pm

 

122. qunfuz said:

OK, Shai, I can only repeat this: talk to them, pull out of the 67 lands, keep your guns pointing at them .. and watch Hamas shrivel into irrelevance.

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March 6th, 2008, 7:58 am

 

123. Shai said:

Qunfuz,

Ok, I’m with you. BTW, I just happened to check on this thread… which by now seems ancient, courtesy of Joshua and Alex… So I’m going back to the more recent ones. Hope to see you there!

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March 6th, 2008, 8:01 pm

 

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