"Palestine's Bleak Future and Syria's Disappointment in Obama," by Landis - Syria Comment

“Palestine’s Bleak Future and Syria’s Disappointment in Obama,” by Landis

Palestine’s Bleak Future and Syria’s Disappointment in Obama
Landis Analysis, January 15

The French article copied below — Arafat Adviser: “Abbas moves from one failure to another to the advantage of Israel” — describes the future of the Palestinians which is black indeed.

Hassan Balawi believes that the Palestinians have failed in their efforts to develop a successful strategy for a two state solution. Israel will be successful in pushing responsibility for Gaza onto Egypt and the remains of the West Bank onto Jordan. Both Egypt and Jordan are desperately trying to avoid this possibility because Gaza will be a heavy burden on Egypt economically and politically. Mubarak fears acquiring an organism run by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Jordanian monarch fears getting sucked back into the West Bank, which will import disorder into his small kingdom.

All the gains of the Oslo process have been lost, he concludes. PA state institutions and control have been lost, and Hamas will acquire the mantle of Palestinian resistance. The West will have no option but to open negotiations with Hamas. The Palestinians failed to remain united and pursue a wise national vision. Today the small calculations of factional maneuver dominate Palestinian leadership and the halls of Arab politics.

Hillary Clinton has promised that the US will not open dialogue with Hamas until it has renounced violence, but made no indication that Obama will bring pressure on Israel to stop building settlements or extending its system of roadblocks and consolidation of sovereignty over Jerusalem. Indeed, the foreign policy she outlined for the US seems surprisingly similar to what it has been during the last few years of the Bush administration. Iran will continue to be demonized because Washington’s and Tehran’s policies remain on course for a head on crash. The US will “not accept” a nuclear Iran, which can only be interpreted as a promise to go to war against Iran if it doesn’t not back down from its policy of producing nuclear weapons. The effort to compel an Iranian reversal will require more sanctions, more rallying of the world against Iran, and more military and diplomatic pressure. The key will be to get Russia and China to join in this effort.

The positive part of Hillary’s policy statements was her promise to re-engage Syria and Iran and the return of diplomacy – but this should mean a willingness to make important compromises to achieve results. It is not clear how these compromises can be made, given her categorical statements about Iran and Syria.  For Syria, she insisted on a flip, which has been a sticking point. Assad has insisted that Syria will not flip and break relations with its main allies – Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas; rather, he believes that a larger regional compromise must be worked out that will include major Israeli and US concessions to match Syrian-Iranian accommodations. Syria clearly wants to bring its Lebanese and Palestinian allies along by negotiating clear political gains for them in exchange for their making military concessions and promises to forswear violence.

In short, from Syria’s vantage point, it looks like the Obama administration is insisting that Syria give up its regional role and become a gelding. In exchange for abandoning its regional strategy, Syria is being promised – at least in theory –  economic benefits (perhaps this is through the lifting of sanctions) and diplomatic support for negotiations with Israel over the Golan. (The US has made no clear statement that it believes the Golan is Syrian territory for a very long time. On the contrary, President Bush told Prime Minister Sharon in 2004 that most settlements of the West Bank will have to be incorporated into Israel in a future peace. Analogy would suggest that a similar argument could be developed by the US to support Israeli retention of portions of the Golan. Syria has been given pressious little to move forward on – all the same, it is giving Obama the benefit of the doubt. What else can it do?

Obama’s support for Israel’s destruction of Hamas is not promising. If the US supports Israel’s continued efforts to hunt down Hamas’ leaders and kill them, the situation will be bleak. If Hamas is effectively decapitated, diplomacy will have little future for the Palestinians. Israel will have been rewarded for the use of force and will continue to move to acquire portions of the West Bank unilaterally. Palestinian population centers in the West Bank will be dumped on Jordan. Gazans will have no option but to look to a horrified Egypt for relief from their geographic imprisonment and economic suffocation.

A more positive scenario is provided by Jonathan Freedland writing in The Guardian, Wednesday 14 January 2009.:Amid the horror and doom of Gaza, the IRA precedent offers hope. He writes:

The Northern Ireland example is instructive. Through dialogue even the most implacable of enemies can make peace

….There are at least a few steps that brought eventual peace to Northern Ireland that could be emulated in the Middle East – but they would require an enormous leap of imagination on all sides. Perhaps the very first move would be a true declaration of intent from Israel. This would be an analogue of the statement in 1990 by the then Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Brooke, that the British government had no “selfish strategic or economic interest” in retaining the province.

The second move has to take place inside the heads of both sides: it is the realisation that no military solution will ever be possible. The road to peace in Northern Ireland began when the British army concluded it could never fight the IRA to more than an “honourable draw” and when the IRA realised it would never bomb British troops out of the province. Hamas has similarly to conclude that suicide bombs on Israeli buses and rockets aimed at Israel’s southern towns will delay, not bring, an end to occupation. Israel has to understand that a movement like Hamas, rooted in the soil of Gaza, cannot be crushed by force. That, on the contrary, raining fire on Gaza will have the same effect on Hamas that internment had on the IRA: it will recruit a new generation of fighters, making it stronger not weaker.

The next stage is the hardest. Adams has called on Israel to enter direct dialogue with Hamas, learning the Irish lesson that for peace to work it must include even those on the extremes. But it’s not quite that simple. Republicans did not get their seat at the table until they had forsworn violence and agreed to pursue their goals by exclusively peaceful means. Israel could truthfully cite the Ulster precedent when it says it cannot sit down with Hamas until it renounces violence.

Yet such a statement would be fraught with risk. Because what has been the key advice of those republicans who have met Hamas leaders? Keep the movement together. It helps no one if the Hamas top brass follow Sinn Féin’s lead and sign up for peaceful means, only for a “Real Hamas” to pop up the next day to take their place. Adams and Martin McGuinness resisted any move that would cause a republican split. The result is that when they were finally ready to do a deal, the deal held.

Once negotiations have begun, Northern Ireland offers paradoxical advice: each side must strengthen its adversary. London and Dublin were always careful to ensure that any move on either the nationalist or unionist side did not go unrewarded. If it had, those making the compromises would have lost face in the eyes of their own people.

Israel has not been as wise. Hamas is strong now in part because their Fatah rivals were made to look like dupes before their fellow Palestinians. They gave up the “armed struggle”, they recognised Israel – and what did they get for it? More checkpoints and settlers on the West Bank than before.

In this context, one of the greatest missed opportunities was the 2005 Israeli pullout from Gaza. Instead of symbolically handing over the territory to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, thereby giving the moderates a prize, Israel withdrew unilaterally – allowing Hamas to claim it as a victory for violence.

It is too late to undo that now. Instead Israel will have to emulate the long, patient work that finally brought peace to Northern Ireland. It will have to use indirect channels to reach those within Hamas – and they exist – who are reconcilable. It will then have to cajole and encourage them towards the position that would enable them to be part of peace talks.

That need not take decades. There are elements within Hamas readier than most Israelis realise to negotiate an end to occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines. But Israel has to decide that a meaningful peace is its goal too, starting with an understanding that this problem will never be solved by force. But it can be solved.

Arafat Adviser: “Abbas moves from one failure to another to the advantage of Israel”
Interview of Hassan Balawi in Le Figaro, 13/Jan/2009 (Thanks FLC)

Peut-on parler d’un échec politique de l’Autorité palestinienne ?
Nous avons l’impression d’un retour en arrière. Les acquis d’Oslo sont partis en fumée avec la deuxième intifada qui n’a pas permis de déboucher sur de nouvelles conquêtes à l’issue de la lutte. Les structures de l’Autorité palestinienne ont été détruites, des militants sont morts, d’autres sont toujours emprisonnés. Et nous avons maintenant un mur de séparation qui a avalé 40 % de notre territoire.

Une réconciliation entre le Fatah et le Hamas est-elle possible ?
“…Les Palestiniens sont responsables de ce qui leur arrive. Ils n’ont pas de stratégie commune et se livrent à de petits calculs avec des ambitions de faction. Mahmoud Abbas conduit des négociations internationales qui ne mènent à rien. Le président palestinien va d’échec en échec pour le plus grand bien d’Israël. Il exprime des souhaits qui restent lettre morte. La résistance du Hamas n’est guère plus productive. Elle n’est pas liée à la recherche de véritables avancées politiques mais à des raisonnements qui visent uniquement à conforter sa propre assise. Le retour au dialogue interpalestinien est indispensable, mais plus le temps passe plus le Hamas va augmenter son niveau d’exigence. Un compromis a été raté en février 2007 lorsque le Hamas avait accepté une participation minoritaire au gouvernement. Il avait également reconnu les principes de la charte de l’OLP, une organisation qu’il pourrait bien au bout du compte intégrer….

Va-t-on à terme vers deux entités palestiniennes distinctes ?
80 % de l’économie de la bande de Gaza dépend d’Israël, qui veut se débarrasser de ce fardeau. Pour certains à Tel-Aviv, la prise du pouvoir par le Hamas est une occasion historique de couper les ponts une fois pour toutes avec Gaza en laissant à l’Égypte la responsabilité de lui fournir le pétrole, le gaz et tout le reste avec l’aide de pays du Golfe. Ceux-là s’accommoderaient parfaitement de deux mini-États, l’un en Cisjordanie et l’autre constitué de la bande de Gaza. Cette solution permettrait de tirer un trait sur les questions de Jérusalem, du retour des réfugiés et de la création d’un État palestinien dans les frontières de 1967. Mais elle se heurte aux craintes des Égyptiens et des Jordaniens. Le Caire a peur d’une contagion islamiste. Le président Moubarak ne veut pas devoir gérer à ses portes une entité dominée par les Frères musulmans. Et Amman redoute d’être obligé d’intervenir en cas de désordre en Cisjordanie.

Le Hamas a-t-il intérêt à accepter un arrêt des hostilités ?
Il a tout à gagner d’un accord qui lui permettrait pour la première fois d’être reconnu par la communauté internationale comme un interlocuteur incontournable. Il sortirait de cette aventure affaibli militairement, mais politiquement grandi sur la scène palestinienne. Il s’imposerait dans le monde arabe en repreneur du flambeau de la résistance palestinienne, à l’instar de l’OLP dans les années 1970.

(1) Auteur de «Gaza. Dans les coulisses du mouvement national palestinien» (Denoël).

Gaza, Viewed From Cairo, by Michele Dunne, 01.08.2009

What Mubarak appears to want now is a ceasefire that avoids increasing Egyptian responsibility for Gaza and offers Hamas minimal concessions. Egyptian officials denied an Israeli newspaper report that Mubarak told European Union officials during a private meeting Monday that “Hamas must not be allowed to win in Gaza,” but the comment might well reflect his thinking…..

While Mubarak might like to emerge the hero of the current conflict, among his main goals will be the prevention of a large-scale transfer of Gazans into Sinai. In a telling comment to the Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat on Tuesday, an unnamed Egyptian official explained why Mubarak has resisted heated calls from inside and outside Egypt to open the Rafah crossing, saying the Egyptians expected it would lead to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians flooding into Sinai and the inevitable reestablishment of semipermanent refugee camps.

Another pressure Mubarak will resist is to take on the administration of Gaza itself, as Egypt did between 1948 and 1967, which has emerged has emerged as a popular Israeli theme in some circles….

Beyond the Palestinians and Israelis, Mubarak also has to contend with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His relations with both are chilly at best, and there are already indications that one or both might try to play the spoiler for any Egyptian effort, in order to show that the road to peace now runs through Damascus and Tehran rather than Cairo. The Iranian speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani, arrived in Damascus Wednesday for talks with Hamas and the Syrian government….

Hamas Willing to Accept Weeklong Cease-Fire If Israel Pulls Out
By Massoud A. Derhally, Bloomberg

Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) — Hamas would accept an immediate weeklong cease-fire if it is accompanied by an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, said Hamas official Mussa Abu Marzuk.

The group is also demanding that border crossings are opened and is willing to accept European or Turkish monitors at those sites, Abu Marzuk, deputy to the Islamic group’s political leader, Khalid Mashaal, said in an interview yesterday in Damascus.

“We want an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of Israeli troops that entered Gaza,” Abu Marzuk said in the most detailed comments on the talks by a senior Hamas official. He said the group would be willing to negotiate a yearlong cease- fire during the cessation.

Israel is sending a Defense Ministry official, Amos Gilad, to Cairo to meet today with Egyptian diplomats who have been trying to work out a cease-fire for the past four days, Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said.

“Israel seeks a sustained and durable calm in which there will be a total absence of hostile fire from Gaza into Israel and the end of arms transfers to Hamas,” Regev said. “On these principles Israel is ready for a long-term period of quiet.”

Military Campaign

Israeli officials have repeatedly said they will press forward with their 2 1/2-week military campaign in Gaza until Hamas stops firing rockets at southern Israeli towns and a new border arrangement is set up to end arms smuggling from Egypt into Gaza. Israel has limited the flow of goods and fuel into Gaza through an 18-month blockade since the group seized control of the coastal enclave in June 2007.

“There will be intense pressure on Israel’s leadership to continue the Gaza offensive until Hamas’s leadership is killed or captured,” said Josh Landis, co-director at the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. “This is what they failed to do in Lebanon in 2006.”….

Comments (56)


Ghat Albird said:

A reading of a Robert Perry’s excerpt suggests that the Bush Strategic defeat in Iraq re-inforces Syria’s stature and position and adds to Dr. Landi’s critique.

Extract below.

President Bush’s strategic defeat in Iraq – defined by the new “status-of-forces agreement” that prohibits permanent U.S. bases and insists on a full U.S.. withdrawal by the end of 2011 – marks a major turning point in the Middle East.

Plus, the American neocons have been severely damaged domestically by their overreach in Iraq. Though they remain influential – especially inside the national press corps with control of the Washington Post’s editorial pages and other influential media outlets – the neocons are increasingly despised by the broad American public.

One of their chief advocates, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, went down to decisive defeat on Nov. 4, 2008, to a political newcomer in Barack Obama, despite right-wing and neocon smear campaigns emphasizing his middle name “Hussein” and claiming that he is a secret Muslim who would be sworn in using a Koran.

Though Obama has given the neocons some hope by handing the State Department to the staunchly pro-Israel Hillary Clinton and by keeping on Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the neocons will probably never reclaim the kind of sweeping influence they had during George W. Bush’s presidency.

These new facts-on-the-ground – both in the Middle East and in Washington – add to the imperative for the Israeli people to reassess the three-decade strategy of balking at reconciliation with their Arab neighbors and counting on the neocon dominance of the US political debates.

Israeli leaders might want to do whatever they can to turn back the clock to the late 1970s when Jimmy Carter showed a possible route to long-term security for Israel – by making respectful peace deals with its Arab neighbors.

Rather than trying to bomb and kill their way to security, Israeli leaders might want to consider a new strategy that steps away from endless confrontation with Arab enemies and instead seeks to integrate Israel into the economic life of the Middle East, as a center of science, technology, industry and finance.

Surely, this approach would not be easy. Given the past three decades of tit-for-tat atrocities, there would be extremists on both sides who would commit additional outrages to derail any progress.

It would have been much easier if Menachem Begin and his successors had understood that some of their greatest American friends were those – like Jimmy Carter – who recognized legitimate interests on both sides of the conflict, rather than those – like George W. Bush – who embraced the most extreme neoconservative positions.

So, whatever the outcome of Israel’s Gaza offensive, it cannot disguise how untenable Israel’s long-term position has become.

Even if Hamas’s little short-range missiles can be silenced for the time-being, the hatreds will continue to fester. The Arab Street will turn, increasingly, against authoritarian Arab leaders in countries such as Egypt and Jordan who have taken the most moderate positions regarding Israel’s right to exist.

And beyond Israel’s immediate neighbors – assuming those mutual hatreds are not defused – extremists will eventually get hold of a weapon of mass destruction, possibly in Pakistan if its current fragile civilian government falls. At some point, someone will have a missile or some other means of delivering a powerful weapon against Israel.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Bush and his neocon advisers may have imagined themselves ensuring security for Israel by taking aggressive action against its regional adversaries but have instead worsened Israel’s predicament. Now, the neocons find themselves widely discredited inside the U.S. political process.

It is this combination of realities – Bush’s failed adventurism in the Middle East and the decline of the neoncons at home – that could become the impetus for a new and serious peace initiative in the Middle East, as the best hope for Israel’s success and survival.

— Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek

January 15th, 2009, 6:00 pm

 

Observer said:

I agree with Joshua’s analysis. I believe the next phase is going to be a civil war among the Palestinians as Abbas will cling to his post and will refuse free and fair elections.

Hamas like the FIS in Algeria will gain legitimacy without having to have any accountability. It will blame the others for any shortcomings in its management of any territory or constituency it holds while it will continue to ask for increasing demands.

Israel is incredibly stupid in all of this for it will have total turmoil in both the Gaza strip and the West Bank.

Egypt is also stupid as it will have to take over Gaza without having gained any control or significant influence there.

In this asymetric warfare, the mere fact that an organization has survived the fourth most powerful military will be a victory.

It is the same story from Dien Bien Phu to the Tet offensive to the Somalia debacle to the Falluja story.

I despair of this enormous pile of stupidity and obstinance.

January 15th, 2009, 6:17 pm

 

sam said:

I truly am amazed, how Western leaders can show now pity on the innocent civilians, it’s just disgusting. I’m ashamed of being a part of this problem, because it’s my tax dollars, that are doing this. Good Govt, will never exist. I honestly believe, that Obama can’t do anything to change what he promised to do. It will be more of the same, and probably not by his choice, it’s the system that can’t be changed. When you have organizations, and other countries, dictate our foriegn policy, than you can expect a responce in kind. It will never end, until we have at least a tiny form of isolationist ideology in our system of Govt. We need to bring back some form of credibility, we should be on the side of Justice to all man equally, or mind our dam business!

January 15th, 2009, 6:21 pm

 

sam said:

This may sound repeated by many here, but the Pals need one man that can unite both parties. This situation can be improved by 1000%, free Marwin Barghouti, to run for PA president, within 5 years, there might be a true Peace in this ugly 60 year godforsaken conflict! He is Israel only chance, to make a peace deal happen, if Isreal really wants peace, which from my veiwpoint it doesnt want, would work a deal for Barghoutis release, along with Gilad Shalit.

January 15th, 2009, 6:30 pm

 

Judith said:

I don\’t see how Israel will be able to put the West Bank off on Jordan or Gaza on Egypt. Mubarek will reject any solution that brings Hamas into his domain, and there is no way, with all the settlements, that Israel will give up the West Bank to Jordan. I think this slaughter of innocents is a disaster for Israel, and regardless of what Obama does, the rest of the world is loosing patience with this. If Obama does not address the problem in at least a partly equitable manner, this situation will contribute significantly to general instability in the world.
The General Assembly is actually meeting today to let the world know that they feel the actions of the Security Council, led by the US and other Western nations is inadequate. This trend will continue. Israel has gone beyond any acceptable standard in this slaughter of innocents. Turkey and Iraq are condemning Israel\’s actions. Mubarek will soon be gone, and there is no guarantee that his son will be able to hold power, and the Saudis will stand alone in their support of Western Domination.

January 15th, 2009, 8:21 pm

 

ugarit said:

Observer said : “the next phae is going to be a civil war among the palestians” but this has already occured. The CIA Israel and Fatah collaborated against the elected Hamas. Hamas. Eliminated many Shin Bet/Fatah collaborators. This was Elliot Abrams design.

January 15th, 2009, 8:52 pm

 

Hasse said:

I was sent theese pictures by a freind who’s a photgrafer. The pictures are from Gaza earlier today, posted them on my blog.

http://smaklosa.blogspot.com
!!WARNING!! some of theese pictures might be considerd to horrible for some people.

January 15th, 2009, 9:04 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Israel has gone beyond any acceptable standard in this slaughter of innocents.

Judith,

Thank you for the synopsis of the Zionist Agression we are facing presently.

Just a couple simple questions:

1.) What IS the “acceptable standard in this slaughter of innocents”? Please use a modern day example like Sri Lanka, Hama, Lebanon, Bosnia, Algeria, Rwanda, Iraq, WW2, etc.

2.) What do you recommend the civilized world do to help realize Ahmadinejad’s dream of “wiping out Israel”?

January 15th, 2009, 9:09 pm

 

chris said:

Judith,

You wrote:
“I think this slaughter of innocents is a disaster for Israel”

I agree with you. Probably the only parties that will benefit from this slaughter of innocents will be Hamas, Syria, and Iran, in that order. Hamas because it will now be seen as the legitimate resister. Syria because the radical faction that hasn’t been weakened by the military campaign is in Syria. Iran because it leads the rejectionist or resistanct camp.

Seeing as we can see who benefits, that leads us to who may have have wanted this conflict. Israel perhaps, Hamas, certainly.

In this conflict, Hamas has picked a fight with an enemy that has tremendous military power, while being fully aware that it cannot achieve its goal, the destruction of Israel. Needless to say this is at the very least, foolish. However, there are 1.5 million people in Gaza and 2 million people in Southern Israel who are being subjected to the disastrous consequences of their insanity. The complete disregard for the welfare of the population under their countrol is horrific.

Hamas continues to make clear, via its leadership in Damascus, that it will never seek peace with Israel. Therefore Israel must act knowing that Hamas does not seek a compromise, but rather, will continue to fight to the last man. So, after 20 days of fighting during which 1000 Palestinian combatants and non-combatants have lost their lives, Hamas continues to fire rockets at Israel with no sign of victory in sight. We can only conclude that Hamas is a suicidal, martyrdom-loving, death-cult intent on bringing the population of Gaza along with it to the grave.

I have the utmost sympathy for everyone in Gaza and within the range of Hamas’ rockets.

January 15th, 2009, 10:03 pm

 

chris said:

I forgot to add a video to my last post.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0wJXf2nt4Y

I had mentioned in my last post that: We can only conclude that Hamas is a suicidal, martyrdom-loving, death-cult intent on bringing the population of Gaza along with it to the grave. The video should help to illustrate this notion.

January 15th, 2009, 10:17 pm

 

offended said:

Chris,
You’ve contradicted yourself in less than 5 minutes, once you’re saying Hamas will benefit from IDF slaughtering of civlians, then you’re saying they’re all suicidal and they want to bring down the whole population to the grave with them.

besides, if IDF and israeli government know full well that Hamas will benefit from their mistakes, why didn’t they try to avert the dumb brutal acts of targeting civlians? i mean they would have benefited lots of people including those arabs who want to believe that IDF is merely trying to defend its population, but are having hard time believing that now given the massacres IDF has committed?

January 15th, 2009, 11:06 pm

 

offended said:

One of my favorite publications in the world, Psychology Today, had published a story about the suffering of the refugees of Gaza in their Sep/Oct edition 1994 (that’s right, 15 years ago).

For those wondering, this is even before launching the first Qassam rocket.

The article reads like it’s written today. A bit long but well worth reading.

Clueless in Gaza
States that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are facing a formidable psychological challenge as they give up their dream of returning home in exchange for genuine peace. Why the areas are God-given territory to Israel; Intifada; The frayed Palestinian social structure; Psychologists’ use of intervention techniques to relieve pain and anger.

By: Deborah Horan

Palestinians are facing a formidable psychological challenge in exchangefor peace — to give up the dream of “home” while reclaiming their sons. It’s not at all clear what the outcome will be.

I’M SITTING WITH 44-YEAR-OLD LEILA SUSI IN HER SUNLESS HOVEL OF A HOME IN THE GAZA STRIP. SUSI–A PALESTINIAN REFUGEE WHO HAS SEEN TWO OF HER FIVE CHILDREN KILLED IN CLASHES WITH ISRAELI SOLDIERS–IS CROUCHED BAREFOOT IN THE CORNER OF THIS SHANTY STRAIGHT OUT OF DICKENS, WITH SEWAGE RUNNING OUT THE FRONT DOOR, A CONCRETE FLOOR, NO FURNITURE, AND A FEW KITCHEN UTENSILS STACKED IN A CORNER. SHE’S TALKING ABOUT THE NEW PEACE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS. “I DON’T WANT TO LIVE IN PEACE WITH ISRAEL. I’M WILLING TO COMMIT SUICIDE JUST TO KILL ISRAELIS.”

The helpless fury that Susi voices is common company among many of the 2 million refugee Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. After 27 years of Israeli military occupation and seven years of uprisings marked by violence, bloodshed, unthinkable poverty and squalor, hatred, and, ultimately, hopelessness, Israelis and once-and-future Palestinians are faced with an incredible choice: give up the dream of returning home in exchange for genuine peace. Last September, the two sides signed an interim peace agreement that began in Gaza and the West Bank town of Jericho in May and will be extended to the rest of the West Bank in the coming months. Now the fate of one of the most politically important regions in the world hangs in the balance. And the stunning complexities of these two intertwined enemies makes the outcome all the more riveting–not to mention uncertain.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-19940901-000018.html

January 15th, 2009, 11:50 pm

 

ugarit said:

The Gaza Ghetto Uprising – that’s what we should call it from now on.

January 16th, 2009, 12:53 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

There are dumm people who blame Hamas for this murderous aggression by Israel against the innocent palestinian people, and they keep writing,making lies,it is Israel who laid seige to Gaza,denying the people the right for food,gas electricity,money,medicine.

January 16th, 2009, 2:41 am

 

norman said:

Majed,

I see no peace with Israel now or in the future , Israel’s plan is not to live in the Mideast but to dominate it and that is something Syria, The Palestinians , Hezbollah and Iran will never accept and as long as Israel can not defeat them to the point of surrender which is not possible for her , they will come back stronger and more determent to fight back , eventually they will win , so be patient , The Crusades stayed for 200 years then left and the new Crusades will face the same , Just be patient and do not give up the rights, the fight against Hamas is to force Hamas to give up the rights of the Palestinians as Abbas , Egypt and The KSA did.

January 16th, 2009, 3:17 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Israel who laid seige to Gaza,denying the people the right for food,gas electricity,money,medicine.

… and the right to import missiles so they can be fired at Israel.

January 16th, 2009, 3:21 am

 

Antoun said:

Interesting analysis, Joshua.

I don’t think the US will go to war in Iran, it simply can’t afford it and the Americans won’t stomach another war whilst the economy is in tatters.

Hillary might talk tough to appease the AIPAC crowd, but logistically, financially and politically an Iran war just seems impossible.

I didn’t expect much from Obama. No US politician has enough guts to take on AIPAC. A means to restrain belligerent US policy in the Middle East will be via Europe. Obama has promised to be multi-lateral in his approach to foreign policy, which means without European support, the US won’t go it alone in a war with Iran. In this case, I expect Syria to be incredibly proactive in its relations with Europe.

I equally don’t expect Syria to flip, or expect anything less than a total return of the Golan. The US presidential elections were meant to be a wake-up call for the US and a realisation of its limits of power. If the US continues along the Bush-path in the Middle East, it will be to its own detriment and to the advantage of Iran and Syria. The Syrians know this, and I doubt they will see a need to change their tact should Obama continue along the Bush line.

For the US to salvage its influence and relevance in the region, it needs to change tact, it needs to engage in genuine dialogue, and it needs to exert pressure on Israel. But it won’t, as you have just highlighted.

As for Palestine, I think Israel’s war in Gaza will actually benefit the Palestinians in the long run. The repercussions from this conflict will be monumental. Should Israel shove Gaza and the remaining portion of the West Bank into Egypt and Jordan, these two regimes will collapse.

Both states are currently at the tip of the cliff. This war has fermented such instability in Egypt and Jordan that I see it only a matter of time before these regimes come down, or there is at least serious civil strife.

Should we return to the status quo, ie. a divided Palestine, then yes I do expect there to be a civil war in the West Bank. Fatah is terribly divided, and this war may have even pushed certain Fatah and PLO factions into Hamas’ camp.

January 16th, 2009, 3:22 am

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

A Hamas spokesman made this unpragmatic remark today and it made be laugh:
We can’t agree to an unlimited truce! We’re a resistance movement!

January 16th, 2009, 3:28 am

 

norman said:

NUR,

Do you think that he meant that he can not agree to an unlimited truce until Israel withdraw from the Palestinian land as an unlimited truce means peace treaty at present day borders.

January 16th, 2009, 3:43 am

 

norman said:

Gaza Campaign Shifts Focus to Hamas Arms Smuggling, Puts Egypt on the Spot

By Nathan Jeffay
Thu. Jan 15, 2009

Tel Aviv — As Israel’s military campaign in Gaza entered its third week, Israel’s leaders were shifting the stated aim of their offensive to preventing Hamas from rearming by smuggling weapons through a series of tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. However indirectly, this meant Egypt, too, had become a focus of the ongoing offensive.

Previously, Israel had said the goal Operation Cast Lead, as the government dubs it, was to stop Hamas from firing rockets across the Gaza border into Israeli cities and towns.

But in a speech on January 11, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that on that score, Hamas “already knows that the equation has changed and that Israel will not reconcile itself to its citizens being fired upon.” Now, she said, Israel was continuing its military operation because “the rearmament of Hamas must be prevented.”

On January 14, Egypt said it had brokered a truce to stop the fighting, but leaders of both Hamas and Israel remained at odds over details of the cease-fire and neither side had accepted it. Israel’s military action began on December 27, with air strikes on Gaza, in a move to stop the rocket barrages that Hamas fired into Israel.

While some security sources say that Hamas’s arms are being smuggled by sea, the consensus, and Israel’s working assumption, is that most are entering Gaza through tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border.

Increasingly, while Israel was concentrating its military offensive against Hamas in Gaza, its objective seemed to be to elicit a response from Egypt for a major crackdown on arms smuggling.

It remained uncertain at press time whether Egypt would respond to Israel’s satisfaction. In a possible fallback plan, press reports indicated the United States and Israel could sign a memorandum of understanding that would commit the Americans to interdict arms shipments from Iran bound for Gaza by sea — a seemingly less effective means of blockade.

“What people need to understand, which largely they don’t, is that Egypt is playing the role of an honest broker between Israel and Hamas, but really it is a third side in the negotiations,” Boaz Ganor, executive director of the Herzliya-based International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, told the Forward.

The question of whether it is realistic to expect Egypt to halt the arms smuggling into Gaza is vigorously debated by experts.

One theory is that despite pressure on Egypt from Israel and the international community, Hamas will continue to have arms smuggled from there. “I suggest that any prospect of a complete stop to arms smuggling is very naive,” said Yoram Meital, head of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy at Ben Gurion University.

Meital believes that Egypt lacks both the ability to overcome Hamas’s resourcefulness and an inclination to do so. “Anyone who expects Egypt to become like a collaborator with Israel by responding to all its requests is both naive and mistaken,” he said.

Meital added that Egypt objects both to the proposed methods for preventing the smuggling and Israel’s shifted focus on it. He argued that Egypt will not agree to an international force, deeming it an “affront to its sovereignty.” And, he said, the country is keen to avoid responsibility for stopping rockets from getting to Gaza, fearing that this is an adjunct to “placing responsibility for the next conflict [between the Palestinians of Gaza and Israel] on Egypt.”

Among experts who say it is conceivable that Egypt will — through stepped-up patrols and perhaps accepting international presence — halt smuggling, the analysis of the war is that the fighting continued long after a cease-fire was possible, in the hope that Egypt would be shaken into action.

“From day one, there was a situation whereby both sides wanted to achieve a cease-fire, though they both wanted a different cease-fire,” Ganor said. “Israel wanted one that ended the rockets and sealed the borders from arms entering Gaza; Hamas wanted one that stopped rockets but allowed them to bring into Gaza what they want.”

Ganor predicted that eventually, the international community would pressure Egypt into a solution that straddles the demands of both sides: It will open Gaza-Egypt crossings and agree to them being monitored by international forces or by the Palestinian Authority, and it will promise to stop the smuggling.

Unlike Meital, who fails to see an incentive for Egypt to get more involved, Ganor sees this as a way for Egypt to avoid a worsening of relations with both the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and Israel, as he is currently being pulled in two directions. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is strong in Egypt despite government measures to repress it.

Stopping the smuggling will meet Israel’s expectations, and opening the crossings with Gaza will meet the approval of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ganor said.

In addition, the Gaza conflict appears to be buoying the Muslim Brotherhood. “Egypt does not want to see unrest from the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Gaza conflict is creating,” said Yoram Schweitzer, senior research fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies. “To stop Israel [from] attacking Gaza, Egypt will have to do more to block smuggling and will be preventing Israel from an incentive to return to Gaza.”

Ganor said that Egypt’s concern about avoiding fermentation within the Muslim Brotherhood is more important than most people imagine. “I would not underestimate the danger of an assassination of [President Hosni] Mubarak. Let’s not forget that [his predecessor Anwar El] Sadat was assassinated,” he said.

Justus Weiner, scholar-in-residence at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said that in addition to being concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood inside Egypt, it is concerned about unrest in Gaza. He cited the example of the Gaza-Egypt border breach that occurred earlier this month, in which thousands of Gazans entered Egypt. “Egypt understands that having a miniature version of Iraq on its borders does not serve its interests,” he said.

Those who believe that the smuggling may be stopped by Egypt generally see the task as relatively easy from a practical point of view. “It can be done by filling the area with good intelligence and filing up the tunnels,” said Shlomo Brom, a senior research associate at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies. He said that since Egyptian security forces are working under the basic principle that all tunnels have exits less than a half-mile from the border, the forces could find the tunnels if they wished.

There is no consensus on why Egypt hasn’t stopped the smuggling so far.

“My sense is that the Egyptian government, as long as it does not see arms smuggling as a threat to the Egyptian regime, does not see it as a major priority,” Weiner said. He added that porous borders are the norm for Arab countries.

According to Brom, Egypt has the capability, but it prefers to use its resources in other areas.

“Another reason is semi-political,” he said. For Egypt, the Bedouin are “a very problematic population… who feel they are not getting what they should.” Brom said he assumed that “Egypt is not keen to cause friction by removing what is an excellent source of income — smuggling.”

Ganor considers it possible that Egypt has “bought” calm among the Muslim Brotherhood by turning a blind eye to smuggling.

——————————————————————————–

Thu. Jan 15, 2009

——————————————————————————–

January 16th, 2009, 4:24 am

 

Averroes said:

Israel Must Stop the Slaughter

By Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister of Gaza

Ismail Haniyeh, the Palestinian Prime Minister, speaking on Al-Aqsa TV in Gaza earlier this week

January 15, 2009 — – I write this article to Western readers across the social and political spectrum as the Israeli war machine continues to massacre my people in Gaza. To date, almost 1,000 have been killed, nearly half of whom are women and children. Last week’s bombing of the UNRWA (UN Relief Works Agency) school in the Jabalya refugee camp was one of the most despicable crimes imaginable, as hundreds of civilians had abandoned their homes and sought refuge with the international agency only to be mercilessly shelled and bombed by Israel. Forty-six children and women were killed in that heinous attack while scores were injured.

Evidently, Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 did not end its occupation nor, as a result, its international obligations as an occupying power. It continued to control and dominate our borders by land, sea and air. Indeed the UN has confirmed that between 2005 and 2008, the Israeli army killed nearly 1,250 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children. For most of that period the border crossings have remained effectively closed, with only limited quantities of food, industrial fuel, animal feed and a few other essential items, allowed in.

Despite its frantic efforts to conceal it, the root cause of Israel’s criminal war on Gaza is the elections of January 2006, which saw Hamas win by a substantial majority. What occurred next was that Israel alongside the United States and the European Union joined forces in an attempt to quash the democratic will of the Palestinian people. They set about reversing the decision first by obstructing the formation of a national unity government and then by making a living hell for the Palestinian people through economic strangulation. The abject failure of all these machinations finally led to this vicious war. Israel’s objective is to silence all voices that express the will of the Palestinian; thereafter it would impose its own terms for a final settlement depriving us of our land, our right to Jerusalem as the rightful capital of our future state and the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes.

Ultimately, the comprehensive siege on Gaza, which manifestly violated the Fourth Geneva Convention, prohibited the most basic medical supplies to our hospitals. It disallowed the delivery of fuel and supply of electricity to our population. And on top of all of this inhumanity, it denied them food and the freedom of movement, even to seek treatment. This led to the avoidable death of hundreds of patients and the spiralling rise of malnutrition among our children.

Palestinians are appalled that the members of the European Union do not view this obscene siege as a form of aggression. Despite the overwhelming evidence, they shamelessly assert that Hamas brought this catastrophe upon the Palestinian people because it did not renew the truce. Yet we ask, did Israel honour the terms of the ceasefire mediated by Egypt in June? It did not. The agreement stipulated a lifting of the siege and an end to attacks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Despite our full compliance, the Israelis persisted in murdering Palestinians in Gaza as well as the West Bank during what became known as the year of the Annapolis peace.

None of the atrocities committed against our schools, universities, mosques, ministries and civil infra-structure would deter us in the pursuit of our national rights. Undoubtedly, Israel could demolish every building in the Gaza Strip but it would never shatter our determination or steadfastness to live in dignity on our land. Surely, if the gathering of civilians in a building only to then bomb it or the use of phosphorous bombs and missiles are not war crimes, then what is? How many more international treaties and conventions must Zionist Israel breach before it is held accountable? There is not a capital in the world today where free and decent people are not outraged by this brutal oppression. Neither Palestine nor the world would be the same after these crimes.

There is only one way forward and no other. Our condition for a new ceasefire is clear and simple. Israel must end its criminal war and slaughter of our people, lift completely and unconditionally its illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, open all our border crossings and completely withdraw from Gaza. After this we would consider future options. Ultimately, the Palestinians are a people struggling for freedom from occupation and the establishment of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of refugees to their villages from which they were expelled. Whatever the cost, the continuation of Israel’s massacres will neither break our will nor our aspiration for freedom and independence.

January 16th, 2009, 5:03 am

 

Shami said:

Both made big mistakes ,hamas and fateh,palestinian unity is a must ,now it’s time for both parties to have smart leaderships like were arafat and sheikh ahmad yacine.I think haniyeh could remain ,he is a pragmatic man but abbas must be changed because he lacks of charimsa and is disliked by fateh militants,and all these corrupt faces arround him like qorei ,dahlan and co.It’s also more important for the palestinians to remain independent and not be tools in the hand of hypocrite regimes.I dont see other way of salvation.
Palestine is more than ever in need of smart political actors like Faysal Husseini and Haydar AbdelShaf3i.I also noticed the absence of christians among the important palestinian political actors ,this is an other sign of the wrong developmment that took place in palestine since the political elimination of Arafat by both the arabs(Syria included) before the israelis.

January 16th, 2009, 5:40 am

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

Here is a sobering Op-ed in the washington times on the analogies used to support Israel.

KUHN: When Israel expelled Palestinians:
What if it was San Diego and Tijuana instead?
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jan/14/when-israel-expelled-palestinians/

and her is a hilarious take from Jon Stewart saying very similar things
http://www.alternet.org/blogs/video/118487/jon_stewart_takes_on_israel's_attack_on_gaza/

January 16th, 2009, 10:11 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

A Hamas spokesman made this unpragmatic remark today and it made be laugh:
“We can’t agree to an unlimited truce! We’re a resistance movement!”

Exactly, conflict and violence is their raison d’etre.

norman said:

NUR,

Do you think that he meant that he can not agree to an unlimited truce until Israel withdraw from the Palestinian land as an unlimited truce?

Right again. Hamas = Resistance = Unlimited Conflict

It is “land for peace”, which implies negotiation.

It is not land first, then peace and it is not peace first, then land. But because Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel and becaues armed conflict and resistance is the corner stone of Hamas’ policies, it’s going to make negotiation impossible. Hope Gazans are glad they voted Hamas in as their representatives. I wonder when the next election will take place.

January 16th, 2009, 12:03 pm

 

why-discuss said:

The next battle will be in the West Bank when Hamas may win again in the next election. Israel and the rest of the world will be forced to deal with it as a political entity..
Israel may soon face another war in the West Bank soon.

January 16th, 2009, 1:10 pm

 
 

norman said:

Print Back to story

How the Gaza War Could End: Three Scenarios
Fri Jan 16, 5:30 am ET

Pressure is mounting on Israel and Hamas to find a way of ending the war in Gaza. Both sides have responded positively, if tentatively, to Egyptian proposals for a phased truce that would begin with a lull in fighting for a defined period (10 days by some accounts). That interlude would then allow for the brokering of a more comprehensive cease-fire. But each side’s goals from any truce remain antagonistic to those of the other, and reaching an agreement that bridges the vast gap between them remains a Herculean diplomatic challenge.

Even before the Israeli invasion began late December, Hamas had offered to renew its six-month cease-fire with Israel on condition that the border crossings from Egypt and Israel into Gaza be opened. Those crossings have been closed as part of a strategy of imposing economic deprivation on the people of Gaza in the hope that they would turn on Hamas; Israel remains reluctant to agree to reopen them as part of a cease-fire deal, since that would be claimed as a victory by Hamas. Hamas also insists on a full and immediate withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Gaza. Israel is reluctant to comply until mechanisms are in place to prevent Hamas rearming.

Israel’s declared purpose in launching Operation Cast Lead was to halt Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza, and prevent Hamas from being able to rearm through smuggling weapons from Egypt. Israel remains committed, however, to a long-term goal of ending Hamas control of Gaza, and it insists that the movement should gain no “recognition” or “legitimacy” as part of any truce – a tough call since Hamas is the key combatant on the Palestinian side.

(See pictures of the Gaza ground war)

So how will the Gaza conflict be resolved? Israel’s dominant military position puts its leaders in a position to decide how the hostilities will. But those leaders remain locked in debate among themselve over the best way to do that. Here are the three most likely scenarios, each with different political consequences for the main players and the future of the conflict:

Scenario 1: Regime Change
Given Israel’s long-term goal of ousting Hamas in Gaza, some key military and political leaders have urged that it expand the goals of its current operation, and use its momentum to take control of Gaza City and decapitate Hamas. Most vocal in advocating this option is Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, the hawkish front-runner in the race for prime minister, who will portray any outcome that leaves Hamas intact in Gaza as a failure – bad news for his chief rivals, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

But the “regime-change” option is even reported to have support from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who sees it as a way to restore the control over all Palestinian territories of his peace partner, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Skeptics, including Barak and Livni, warn that pursuing regime-change would require the Israeli military operation to continue for months, risking diplomatic isolation and dramatic increases in casualties. And the Israeli security establishment is justifiably skeptical of the prospects for re-imposing the already enfeebled Abbas on a hostile Gaza. Rather than boost his power, the latest confrontation has seen Abbas further marginalized. Even his future control over the West Bank has come into question.

Even if forced out of power, Hamas would maintain a resistance role that would prevent anyone else from governing the territory. (The organization is estimated to have close to 20,000 men under arms in Gaza, of which Israel claims, so far, to have killed no more than 2.5%.) That would force Israel to reoccupy a territory from which it sought to separate in 2005. Still, Israeli leaders hope that the military operation can deal a powerful enough blow to hobble Hamas. They still hope to see the Abbas’ authority re-imposed as part of any truce. More realistically, perhaps, Arab mediators and the U.N. Security Council have urged that cease-fire plans restore reconciliation between Abbas and Hamas. Arab countries previously brokered a national unity government between the two, and Hamas remains the ruling party in the Palestinian Authority’s legislature. But Israel has long insisted it will not deal with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas. (See pictures of life under Hamas in Gaza.)

Scenario 2: Long-term Cease-fire
Israel has insisted that a cease-fire be “sustainable,” by ensuring that Hamas is unable to rearm itself. An actual disarming of Hamas’ current militias is unlikely without a full-scale reoccupation of Gaza, which would involve tens of thousands more Israeli troops over many months. Anything less will see Hamas continue to be the dominant security presence inside Gaza. So, Israel’s priority will be to choke off the supply of rockets and mortar shells, which have been smuggled through tunnels from Gaza and fired at Israel. The Israelis want Egypt to police those tunnels, under U.S. supervision. Egypt has been reluctant to take on the potential domestic political headache of having foreign troops policing the Gaza border on its soil, and fears that Israel will seek to force Cairo to accept increasing responsibility for the territory – a role Cairo steadfastly refuses to play.

Egypt is reportedly proposing that an immediate truce, in which Israeli forces retain their current positions but advance no further, be followed by negotiations on a full withdrawal and reopening the crossings. Egypt will likely agree to enhanced mechanisms for policing the smugglers’ tunnels, but those tunnels were also Gaza’s economic lifeline, and Egypt will insist they can be closed only if the legitimate crossings into Gaza are reopened to allow the flow of normal humanitarian and commercial traffic. That, of course, is what Hamas has been demanding, which will make Israel – and Egypt – uncomfortable. Neither wants to see the radical movement emerge from this confrontation with an enhanced status, but the scale of the humanitarian disaster wrought by Operation Cast Lead renders maintaining the economic blockade untenable. Hamas may claim vindication, but it will not be allowed to directly control the crossings itself, as it had demanded, and will be forced to swallow many other compromises.

Policing the crossings on the Palestinian side will likely be the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority, although that will require new agreements between Hamas and President Abbas. Any cease-fire is likely to implicitly recognize Hamas’ dominance as an inescapable reality in Gaza. Hamas will claim victory from any truce that results in the crossings being reopened, and its claim may well be echoed by Netanyahu on the campaign trail. After all, ending the current operation on the basis of a formal long-term truce in Gaza will codify Israeli-Hamas coexistence. That’s why Israeli journalist Aluf Benn dubbed the conflict “Gaza’s War of Independence,” an allusion to the conflict 60 years ago in which Israel established its existence as an intractable political-military fact. (See pictures of 60 years of Israel.)

Scenario 3: The Guns Go Silent Without a Formal Truce
If the offensive cannot deal Hamas a death blow, Israel may see benefit in holding its fire, in line with the first phase of the Egyptian plan but not necessarily concluding a comprehensive cease-fire. It would simply maintain the halt to hostilities and even withdraw its forces on an open-ended basis. Israeli leaders saw Operation Cast Lead as an opportunity to restore Israel’s “deterrent” power, which it believed had been damaged when it was fought to a draw by Hizballah in Lebanon in 2006. But the Gaza operation, with its almost 100-to-1 ratio of Palestinian to Israeli casualties, has issued a painful reminder of Israel’s capacity and willingness to abandon restraints and rain devastation on the heads of all challengers.

By simply stopping its operation without a formal truce, Israel can claim to have reestablished its “deterrent” on future rocket fire without “recognizing” Hamas’ authority in Gaza. This option would also allow Israel to avoid accepting any new restraints on its actions in Gaza. It would also bypass the need to deploy international forces, a move that would complicate any future offensive. Israel ended its 2002 offensive against militants in Jenin and other West Bank cities on its own terms, choosing where to remain deployed and continuing to raid those cities as deemed necessary. The six-month truce that maintained calm in Gaza from June until November last year was never formally codified – each side had its own interpretation of understandings reached with the Egyptian mediator, and there was no publicly agreed text or mechanism for monitoring or arbitrating disputes.

Some Israeli reports suggest that halting the offensive without an agreement is the option favored by Livni. And its prospects may be enhanced by the fact that negotiations over a formal cease-fire may take more than 10 days and may, in fact, not be resolved before Israel has elected a new government – possibly, one with little interest in a truce with Hamas. But even an unspoken truce would have to involve the opening of crossings to relieve the humanitarian catastrophe, and would require mechanisms for monitoring the flow of goods into Gaza, and tunnel smuggling. In other words, even an unspoken cease-fire will require many of the features of a formal one. Hamas has also insisted that it won’t accept another vague or open-ended ceasefire without defined timetables and verifiable goals, although its ability to hold out for its terms will be determined by the resilience of its forces on the ground. But Egypt and other regional players will press Israel to formalize the truce terms in order to prevent a recurrence of the horrors seen in Gaza over the past three weeks. (See pictures of heartbreak in the Middle East.)

Whichever of these three permutations defines the Gaza outcome, the likelihood is that Operation Cast Lead will not have ended the conflict between Israel and Hamas, but will instead have propelled it into a new phase.

View this article on Time.com

Related articles on Time.com:

Despite Gaza Attacks, Hamas Thinks It Has the Upper Hand
Israel versus Hamas: How to Shape a Ceasefire
Israel Enters Gaza: Negotiating with Extreme Prejudice
Will Israel-Hamas Clash Threaten the Truce?
Putting Humpty Together Again in Gaza

Copyright © 2009 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.Questions or CommentsPrivacy PolicyTerms of ServiceCopyright/IP Policy

January 16th, 2009, 2:09 pm

 

offended said:

Use of of Palestinians as human shields is a common practice of the terrorist army of Israel (a.k.a. IDF):

January 16th, 2009, 2:12 pm

 

Nour said:

Great speech by President Bashar al-Assad at the Summit. He declared the Arab Peace Initiative dead.

January 16th, 2009, 2:46 pm

 

offended said:

Arab-Americans flock to Gaza protests.

January 16th, 2009, 2:54 pm

 

offended said:

Indeed, the hallmark of Doha summit was president Assad’s speech.

Even Abd Al Bari Atwan of Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper, who never spares any chance to criticize Arab leaders, and who’s known for never praising any Arab official before (as far as I could tell) had commented positively on the speech and called it: “an important speech which will set up the framework for new era of resistance”

My favorite part was when Bashar urged other arab leaders to act in such a way that will reflect the will of their people. Indeed, Syria may not be a democratic country, but nevertheless, president Bashar does a very good job of articulating what Syrian people need and demand of the summit.

January 16th, 2009, 3:05 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Indeed, Syria may not be a democratic country, but nevertheless, president Bashar…

Offended,

That’s OK, democracy is only important in Israel.

January 16th, 2009, 3:29 pm

 

Chris said:

Offended,

I also caught a glimpse of some of these protesterss at the beginning of this news interview with historian Michael Oren. It was pretty sad, very sad,

Here is the clip: http://youtube.com/watch?v=iMvrdZ0oeAM

January 16th, 2009, 3:36 pm

 

Chris said:

Offended,

As far as your clip that people are using Human Shields. I would be highly skeptical when either side makes such claims. Here’s some analysis on the media coverage coming out of the West Bank from 60 Minutes.

January 16th, 2009, 3:44 pm

 

HUSSEIN said:

Russian foreign minister, Lavrov, told Iran and Syria to do what they failed to do so far. He told them to tell Hamas so-called leaders sitting in Damascus to oblige into accepting ceasefire terms.

On another note, Muslims strongly believe according to what their Prophet told them that a time will come when you (Muslims) will fight the Jews on the land of Palestine. He said the Muslims will be positioned on the eastern bank of the Jordan River while the Jews will be positioned on the western bank. The Jews, he said, will find no place to hide and will seek shelter behind trees and stones. When that time comes, he said, even the trees and the stones will speak and say: “O’ Muslim, true believer in Allah, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him.” And that time will be the end of all Jews. Could Israel be setting the stage for that prophecy to be fulfilled? By displaying such barbarity, that may well be the case. Even Jewish rabbis are now predicting Israel is digging its own grave.

January 16th, 2009, 4:05 pm

 

jad said:

(It was pretty sad, very sad,)
Which one? the Zionist “Burning” Palestinians (GOY) or the Nazi “Gassing” Jews, Russians, Pols along with the Gypsies and Homosexuals?
What is the difference? Killing a human is the same…Obviously for you killing 1100 Palestinians in 20 days is not gory enough and nothing to be sadden about, isn’t it?
(I would be highly skeptical when either side makes such claims.)
Get real Chris…
P.S. Wait till you get enough comments then reply in one instead of writing 100s for each line we write..or atleast wait till you finish your school homeworks

January 16th, 2009, 4:57 pm

 

offended said:

The massacres in Gaza are the latest phase of a war that Israel has been waging against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years. The goal of this war has never changed: to use overwhelming military power to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force, one capable of resisting Israel’s ongoing appropriation of their land and resources. Israel’s war against the Palestinians has turned Gaza and the West Bank into a pair of gigantic political prisons. There is nothing symmetrical about this war in terms of principles, tactics or consequences. Israel is responsible for launching and intensifying it, and for ending the most recent lull in hostilities.

Israel must lose. It is not enough to call for another ceasefire, or more humanitarian assistance. It is not enough to urge the renewal of dialogue and to acknowledge the concerns and suffering of both sides. If we believe in the principle of democratic self-determination, if we affirm the right to resist military aggression and colonial occupation, then we are obliged to take sides… against Israel, and with the people of Gaza and the West Bank.

We must do what we can to stop Israel from winning its war. Israel must accept that its security depends on justice and peaceful coexistence with its neighbours, and not upon the criminal use of force.

We believe Israel should immediately and unconditionally end its assault on Gaza, end the occupation of the West Bank, and abandon all claims to possess or control territory beyond its 1967 borders. We call on the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps to oblige Israel to comply with these demands, starting with a programme of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

A letter signed by more than 300 notable academics from the UK.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/16/gaza-israel-petitions

January 16th, 2009, 5:17 pm

 

offended said:

Chris,
You advocate the ongoing massacre against the Palestinians of Gaza, so you’re even worse than those who utter anti-semitic or racist refrains.

January 16th, 2009, 5:21 pm

 

offended said:

And the video about the IDF was pretty clear, there was no reporting bias element to it: the IDF thug was blatantly prodding the guy in front of him with the rifle barrel in the house search. This strikes me as coward more than it strikes me as inhumane (I don’t expect humanity from the terrorist of IDF anyway).

January 16th, 2009, 5:24 pm

 

Observer said:

I have written before that Egypt is driving itself into irrelevance and now is the turn of KSA. By giving cover to the effort to destroy Hamas, all three Israel, Egypt, and SA have no after tomorrow plan.
Israeli media have mentioned that a weaker Hamas is better than a Somalia where Israel will remain responsible for the welfare of the Gazans. Egypt thinks that they can bring back Dahlan and his cronies, and SA thinks that Abbas can sign any peace treaty and be content with presiding over his conference table and his bathroom and declare a Palestinian state. Mubarak has one strategy: annoint Gamal in his role, Abdallah has one strategy, stay in power and receive his bedouins in his tent. THe following superb article by Sami Moubayed is a must read as it follows on my previous note about the change that is leaving SA and Egypt increasingly without any influence in the region.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KA17Ak02.html

On a different note, there is every indication from this war that the lessons of 06 have been partially learned: prohibit the press, bomb the civilians to punish the protagonist, and use massive indiscriminate force: exactly the lesson of the playbook of their former tormentors and executioners from 33-45

January 16th, 2009, 5:26 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Joshua – your analysis is excellent. And very helpful for all of us.

For sometime it has been apparent that the 2 state solution was not viable. From the events of the last 3 weeks, add Fatah becoming the big loser, many citizens of Gaza blaming Hamas for being partly responsible for having to live for years under a seige, and now Gaza and the west bank might be governed by foreign countries. The scene is set for change. Foreign occupation is about the best governmental leaders can do. But it is only an intermediate solution.
Neither Egypt nor Jordan wants to be seen as the occupier.

An Egypt-Jordan solution could set the stage for creating a new one state solution, not the conventional nation state, but more in terms of an EU style confederacy, a common economy, with freedom to travel, freedom of employment, equal rights for all citizens but preserving ethnic identities. It could start with Palestine and Israel, possibly Jordan, possibly Lebanon. The economic possibilites in such a confederation will be extraordinary, and all of the activists could claim victory! What we need is a spokesperson in the ME, government or non-government, to publically advocate this lasting solution.

Iran: It is not U.S. and Iran that are on a confrontation tract, it is Iran and the signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty that are on a confrontation tract. When will the confrontation occur? I had thought as early as 2009 or 2010 but intelligence reports maybe not until 2012. By 2012 much will have changed in Iran. If sooner, I doubt there will be military strikes – there are other methods. One of them might be started before this year is out.

January 16th, 2009, 6:47 pm

 

Chris said:

Offended:

You wrote:
“You advocate the ongoing massacre against the Palestinians of Gaza”

I have never advocated the killing of anybody.

January 16th, 2009, 6:54 pm

 

Yossi said:

People forget that with a planned yearly deficit of trillion dollars the US will be a dead man walking for at least the next five years. This has far reaching consequences on Middle East politics. It means a politically and militarily weak Israel. Egypt may undergo a regime change and become more Islamic. Saudi Arabia will become isolated and weaker. A strong coalition of Turkey, Syria, Iran and probably Iraq is expected to form and dominate the region. In short everything will change and in this new Middle East the Palestinians may find themselves in a much better position.

January 16th, 2009, 7:09 pm

 

idit said:

Seems like Mash’al and Assad are ready to fight to the last palesstinian.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/01/2009116151135307776.html

January 16th, 2009, 7:28 pm

 

chris said:

Jad:

you wrote:
It was pretty sad, very sad,)
Which one? the Zionist “Burning” Palestinians (GOY) or the Nazi “Gassing” Jews, Russians, Pols along with the Gypsies and Homosexuals?
What is the difference? Killing a human is the same…Obviously for you killing 1100 Palestinians in 20 days is not gory enough and nothing to be sadden about, isn’t it?

In response to this video I posted after you commented on the demonstrations. http://youtube.com/watch?v=iMvrdZ0oeAM

When I said that this is sad, I was referring to the fact that Americans were advocating genocide. It is very sad to see a young girl, who must have been taught these things, to call for a second holocaust.

Of course what is happening in Gaza is sad.

You asked what is the difference… Well there are a few important differences between the holocaust and what we saw in Gaza. First and foremost I would say is the fact that the leadership in Gaza was engaged in a war against Hamas. The second important difference it the magnitude of the killing, about 5.9 million Jews and 9 million people total, when we include gays, Roma, communists, handicapped people and Poles who died in the camps. Thirdly, the holocaust is also quite different in that the killing of the holocaust had an industrial nature. In the case of Gaza we have a war-zone, Hamas fires rockets and Israel fires from F-16s, that is a far cry from the industrial style killing that we saw in the holocaust. I hope that helps.

January 16th, 2009, 7:57 pm

 

Alex said:

Idit,

Yes, just like the French kept fighting the Nazi lunatics, the occupied Palestinians will continue to fight their criminal occupiers who need a new war every other year to make sure no one has any hope for peace anymore.

Assad who until last month was happy to announce that his negotiations with Israel in turkey are going fine, is not the one who gave us the Gaza surprise. He is not sending those F16’s, it is the criminals you are proud of

January 16th, 2009, 8:44 pm

 

Friend in America said:

The following will be published in the Washington Poston this Sunday. It is a bit too long but is worthwhile reading for those more interested in how decisions are made in government than in venting anger:

10 Take Aways From the Bush Years

There’s actually a lot that President-elect Barack Obama can learn from the troubled presidency of George W. Bush. Over the past eight years, I have interviewed President Bush for nearly 11 hours, spent hundreds of hours with his administration’s key players and reviewed thousands of pages of documents and notes. That produced four books, totaling 1,727 pages, that amount to a very long case study in presidential decision-making, and there are plenty of morals to the story. Presidents live in the unfinished business of their predecessors, and Bush casts a giant shadow on the Obama presidency: two incomplete wars and a monumental financial and economic crisis. Here are 10 lessons that Obama and his team should take away from the Bush experience.

1. Presidents set the tone. Don’t be passive or tolerate virulent divisions.

In the fall of 2002, Bush personally witnessed a startling face-off between National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in the White House Situation Room after Rumsfeld had briefed the National Security Council on the Iraq war plan. Rice wanted to hold onto a copy of the Pentagon briefing slides, code-named Polo Step. “You won’t be needing that,” Rumsfeld said, reaching across the table and snatching the Top Secret packet away from Rice — in front of the president. “I’ll let you two work it out,” Bush said, then turned and walked out. Rice had to send an aide to the Pentagon to get a bootlegged copy from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Bush should never have put up with Rumsfeld’s power play. Instead of a team of rivals, Bush wound up with a team of back-stabbers with long-running, poisonous disagreements about foreign policy fundamentals.

2. The president must insist that everyone speak out loud in front of the others, even — or especially — when there are vehement disagreements.

During the same critical period, Vice President Cheney was urging Secretary of State Colin Powell to consider seriously the possibility that Iraq might be connected to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Powell found the case worse than ridiculous and scornfully concluded that Cheney had what Powell termed a “fever.” (In private, Powell used to call the Pentagon policy shop run by Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith, who shared Cheney’s burning interest in supposed ties between al-Qaeda and Iraq, a “Gestapo office.”)

Powell was right that to conclude that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden did not work together. But Cheney and Powell did not have this crucial debate in front of the president — even though such a discussion might have undermined one key reason for war. Cheney provided private advice to the president, but he was rarely asked to argue with others and test his case. After the invasion, Cheney had a celebratory dinner with some aides and friends. “Colin always had major reservations about what we were trying to do,” Cheney told the group as they toasted Bush and laughed at Powell. This sort of derision undermined the administration’s unity of purpose — and suggests the nasty tone that can emerge when open debate is stifled by long-running feuds and personal hostility.

3. A president must do the homework to master the fundamental ideas and concepts behind his policies. The president should not micromanage, but understanding the ramifications of his positions cannot be outsourced to anyone.

For example, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq in 2004-07, concluded that President Bush lacked a basic grasp of what the Iraq war was about. Casey believed that Bush, who kept asking for enemy body counts, saw the war as a conventional battle, rather than the counterinsurgency campaign to win over the Iraqi population that it was. “We cannot kill our way to victory in Iraq,” Gen. David Petraeus said later. In May 2008, Bush insisted to me that he, of all people, knew all too well what the war was about.

4. Presidents need to draw people out and make sure bad news makes it to the Oval Office.
On June 18, 2003, before real trouble had developed in Iraq, retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, the first official to head the Iraqi reconstruction effort, warned Rumsfeld that disbanding the Iraqi army and purging too many former Baath Party loyalists had been “tragic” mistakes. But in an Oval Office meeting with Bush later that day, none of this came up, and Garner reported to a pleased president that, in 70 meetings with Iraqis, they had always said, “God bless Mr. George Bush.” Bush should have asked Garner if he had any worries — perhaps even kicking Rumsfeld out of the Oval Office and saying something like, “Jay, you were there. I insist on the ground truth. Don’t hold anything back.”

Bush sometimes assumed he knew his aides’ private views without asking them one-on-one. He made probably the most important decision of his presidency — whether to invade Iraq — without directly asking Powell, Rumsfeld or CIA Director George J. Tenet for their bottom-line recommendation. (Instead of consulting his own father, former president George H.W. Bush, who had gone to war in 1991 to kick the Iraqi army out of Kuwait, the younger Bush told me that he had appealed to a “higher father” for strength.)

5. Presidents need to foster a culture of skepticism and doubt.

During a December 2003 interview with Bush, I read to him a quote from his closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, about the experience of receiving letters from family members of slain soldiers who had written that they hated him. “And don’t believe anyone who tells you when they receive letters like that, they don’t suffer any doubt,” Blair had said.
Yeah,” Bush replied. “I haven’t suffered doubt.”
“Is that right?” I asked. “Not at all?”
“No,” he said.

Presidents and generals don’t have to live on doubt. But they should learn to love it. “You should not be the parrot on the secretary’s shoulder,” said Marine Gen. James Jones, Obama’s incoming national security adviser, to his old friend Gen. Peter Pace, who was then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — a group Jones thought had been “systematically emasculated by Rumsfeld.” Doubt is not the enemy of good policy; it can help leaders evaluate alternatives, handle big decisions and later make course corrections if necessary.

6. Presidents get contradictory data, and they need a rigorous way to sort it out.

In 2004-06, the CIA was reporting that Iraq was getting more violent and less stable. By mid-2006, Bush’s own NSC deputy for Iraq, Meghan O’Sullivan, had a blunt assessment of conditions in Baghdad: “It’s hell, Mr. President.” But the Pentagon remained optimistic and reported that a strategy of drawing down U.S. troops and turning security over to the Iraqis would end in “self-reliance” in 2009. As best I could discover, the president never insisted that the contradiction between “hell” and “self-reliance” be resolved.

7. Presidents must tell the hard truth to the public, even if that means delivering very bad news.

For years after the Iraq invasion, Bush consistently offered upbeat public assessments. That went well beyond the infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner that he admitted last Monday had been a mistake. “Absolutely, we’re winning,” the president said during an October 2006 news conference. “We’re winning.” His confident remarks came during one of the lowest points of the war, at a time when anyone with a TV screen knew that the war was going badly. On Feb. 5, 2005, as he was moving up from his first-term role as Rice’s deputy to become national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley had offered a private, confidential assessment of the problems of Bush’s Iraq-dominated first term. “I give us a B-minus for policy development,” he said, “and a D-minus for policy execution.” The president later told me that he knew that the Iraq “strategy wasn’t working.” So how could the United States be winning a war with a failing strategy?

After 9/11, Bush spoke forthrightly about a war on terror that might last a generation and include other attacks on the U.S. homeland. That straight talk marked the period of Bush’s greatest leadership and highest popularity. Presidents are strong when they are the voice of realism.

8. Righteous motives are not enough for effective policy.

“I believe we have a duty to free people,” Bush told me in late 2003. I believe he truly wanted to bring democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq. In preparing his second inaugural address in 2005, for example, Bush told his chief speechwriter, Michael Gerson, “The future of America and the security of America depends on the spread of liberty.” That got the idealistic Gerson so pumped that he set out to produce the foreign policy equivalent to Albert Einstein’s unified field theory of the universe — a 17-minute inaugural address in which the president said his goal was nothing less than “the ending of tyranny in our world.”

But this high purpose often blinded Bush and his aides to the consequences of this mad dash to democracy. In 2005, for example, Bush and his war cabinet spent much of their time promoting free elections in Iraq — which wound up highlighting the isolation of the minority Sunnis and setting the stage for the raging sectarian violence of 2006.

9. Presidents must insist on strategic thinking.

Only the president (and perhaps the national security adviser) can prod a reactive bureaucracy to think about where the administration should be in one, two or four years. Then detailed, step-by-step tactical plans must be devised to try to get there. It’s easy for an administration to become consumed with putting out brush fires, which often requires presidential involvement. (Ask Obama how much time he’s been spending on the Gaza war.) But a president will probably be judged by the success of his long-range plans, not his daily crisis management.

For example, in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the quality of the planning for combat operations ranged from adequate to strong, but far too little attention was devoted to what might come after the fall of the Taliban and the Baath Party. Some critical strategic decisions — to disband the Iraqi army, force Baathists out of government and abolish an initial Iraqi government council — were made on the ground in Iraq, without the involvement of the NSC and the president.

Obama would do well to remember the example of a young Democratic president who was willing to make long-range plans. Bill Clinton began his presidency in 1993 after having promised to cut the federal deficit in half in four years. The initial plan looked shaky, and Clinton took a lot of heat for more than a year. But he and his team stuck to their basic strategy of cutting federal spending and raising taxes, which laid a major part of the foundation of the economic boom of the Clinton era. It was classic strategic planning, showing a willingness to pay a short-term price for the sort of long-term gains that go down in the history books.

10. The president should embrace transparency. Some version of the behind-the-scenes story of what happened in his White House will always make it out to the public — and everyone will be better off if that version is as accurate as possible.

On March 8, 2008, Hadley made an extraordinary remark about how difficult it has proven to understand the real way Bush made decisions. “He will talk with great authority and assertiveness,” Hadley said. ” ‘This is what we’re going to do.’ And he won’t mean it. Because he will not have gone through the considered process where he finally is prepared to say, ‘I’ve decided.’ And if you write all those things down and historians get them, [they] say, ‘Well, he decided on this day to do such and such.’ It’s not true. It’s not history. It’s a fact, but it’s a misleading fact.”

Presidents should beware of such “misleading facts.” They should run an internal, candid process of debate and discussion with key advisers that will make sense when it surfaces later. This sort of inside account will be told, at least in part, during the presidency. But the best obtainable version will emerge more slowly, over time, and become history.

January 16th, 2009, 9:20 pm

 

Alex said:

These are great FIM … but they are for Obama, not for us.

Most of us here, unlike President Bush, did our homework.

If I may add my 11th point to the above list:

Presidents should detect the presence of a gang of criminal ideologues who are determined to filter any information from reaching the president if that information was not consistent with their narrow convictions.

FIM .. did you “vent anger” after 9/11?

January 16th, 2009, 9:30 pm

 

why-discuss said:

All the roads that used to lead to
Jerusalem now lead to Tehran.

January 18, 2009
Mission to Tehran
By ETHAN BRONNER

For years, a debate raged among Middle East analysts on how connected the many conflicts in the region were. One side argued, in essence, that all roads led to Jerusalem. Solve the core problem — the Israeli-Palestinian dispute — and much of the tension elsewhere would dissipate. The other side countered that the Sunni-Shia split in Iraq, the revolutionary fervor in Iran, the sectarian stew in Lebanon and the sclerotic authoritarianism of Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia would be little affected by any deal over Palestine. Each issue required its own approach.

The debate is not over, but there is an emerging consensus for a third way. All the roads that used to lead to Jerusalem now lead to Tehran. Meet the Iranian challenge, it is said, and most everything else falls into place — Iraq (where Iran meddles with the Shia majority), Syria (with which it is closely allied), Lebanon (where it has vast influence over Hezbollah) and Palestine (where it equips and trains Hamas and Islamic Jihad). Through Tehran, every one of the major concerns in the region is connected to nearly every other one. Because of Tehran none can be solved in isolation. And if Iran goes nuclear, everything becomes hugely more problematic.

The best way to face up to Iran, according to the emerging consensus, is through a grand bargain that not only links ending Israeli settlement in the West Bank to halting nuclear proliferation, but also ties stopping planned American missile installations in Central Europe (which anger Moscow, needed as a partner for the deal) to stability and democracy in Lebanon. With the Iranian centrifuges continuing to spin, the Middle East cannot wait.

Beginning in July 2007, two of this country’s pre-eminent Middle East policy research institutions, both with close ties to the incoming administration, the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations, took the rare step of joining forces and asking 15 of their scholars to focus on the crucial challenges facing the next president. The results are collected in “Restoring the Balance,” a thoughtful and nicely structured collection of seven essays that examine the Iranian challenge and its many parts. (Disclosure: I am a member of the Council on Foreign Relations but had no involvement with this book.)

The assumption informing all the essays is that the Bush years have been a catastrophe. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have unwittingly increased Iranian power. Refusing to talk with Iran and downgrading relations with Damascus have kept Washington in the dark about those countries’ shifting internal forces. Insisting on elections among the Palestinians without realizing the strength of Hamas and then refusing to accept the results only added insult to injury.

So what do the contributors think the new administration should do? Vastly increase the role of diplomacy and thereby bring Russia aboard its Mideast initiatives. Cut the number of American troops in Iraq by as much as half within two years. Open direct dialogue with Tehran quickly. Don’t give up on counterterrorism, but remove it from its current central place. Foster reconciliation between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas by, among other things, reducing demands on Hamas, and press Israel to end all construction in occupied lands even in existing settlements and in Jerusalem. All of this should be carried out through two special envoys, one for Iran and the other for the Israeli-Arab dispute.

Thus the grand bargain comes into view. Through direct, top-level negotiation, Washington gets Tehran to rethink its priorities. Russia, a key supplier to Iran, helps out. To woo Moscow, Bruce Riedel and Gary Samore suggest in their essay, the new administration should pull back from efforts at bringing Georgia and Ukraine into NATO and from plans to install missile defenses in Europe.

Steven A. Cook and Shibley Telhami recommend other steps to reduce the influence of Iran. These include peeling Syria away from its alliance with Tehran by stepping up American relations with Damascus and getting Israel to return the Golan Heights through Turkish mediation; blunting the power of Hamas by bringing it into the Palestinian Authority fold and pressing for the removal of settlements and the creation of a Palestinian state; and pulling Lebanon away from Hezbollah by promoting the national unity government and seeking to involve it in peace talks with Israel. These essays were of course written before the Israeli military assault on Gaza that began in late December, a mini-war that indicates why the region is so volatile and that may or may not force a shift in thinking when it is over.

Gaza aside, the moves described in “Restoring the Balance” would mark a radical departure from current policy, which revolves around counterterrorism, the war in Iraq and refusal to deal with Syria, Iran and Hamas. But would they work? Only a foolish optimist would say yes. But that doesn’t mean that “Restoring the Balance” is foolishly optimistic. The essays display nuance and realism, despite small lapses. There are places where difficulties are skipped over. The description of the Arab League peace plan, for example, does not mention the centrality in the plan of the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, an issue of great contention for the Jewish state. Getting Hamas to agree to a cease-fire, Telhami and Cook blithely write, “will no doubt be challenging.” Talking with Hamas, it is said in another essay, runs counter to efforts to delegitimize terrorism, and “the new administration will have to confront how best to deal with this awkward reality.”

The Middle East is rich in awkward realities. Still, whether or not this plan will succeed, much of it will probably be attempted. In that sense, “Restoring the Balance” is a very useful and readable introduction to the thinking behind the coming shift.

Ethan Bronner is the Jerusalem bureau chief for The Times.

January 18th, 2009, 9:23 am

 

Tarek said:

This whole palestinian issue is a tragedy from day one. Hamas will not help the case of the palestinans. Violence will achieve nothing but more dead palestinians under Iranian supervision. Syria will have to stop playing its dirty game and look for better options for peace, otherwise it will itself also become another victim of the big game. The Syrian Regime should think long term if it wants to survive. The Mullahs of the islamic republic will not be there for ever as itself might be going through some transformation, as intelligent Iranian are tellings us. While Israel is here to stay for long time, and as nothing is for ever, Hamas should try to co-exist with it until they have a better alternative. So far Hamas has been the looser and the Palestinians deserve better leadership.

January 18th, 2009, 6:38 pm

 

jad said:

(As a suggestion, please cease the personal attacks. This takes away from whatever arguments you might have.)
That is usually right when we debate with a normal sane human who doesn’t support killing for ideological and political reasons. Let us see you writing back to a ‘Nazi’ that is killing your family and trying to describe to you how lovely to watch them slowly dies 😉

Chris,
When someone very respected and on a way higher level than your understanding not writing to you personally by the name stay out of it and don’t show us your ‘Ghandi’ ‘underdog’ persona, it doesn’t fit you at all, we all know by now what you represent and stands for..

Alex,
I agree with Norman could you please pose a restrict numbers of daily comments on all of us instead of reading students and Nazis ideas 100 times a day and not being able to discuss anything else.

January 18th, 2009, 6:51 pm

 

Alex said:

Jad,

Since Chris is not the arrogant and rude trouble maker that AIG is, I will not restrict him or ban him. But I will ask all of you to try to steer away from personal attacks… stick to countering any new claims he makes (and Chris, don’t repeat the same thing that was debated already again and again).

Half the comments are about his character and about suspecting he is not a student as he claims… you all made it clear you don’t buy it, no need to repeat that.

And Chris, please try to not challenge every single comment which is critical of Israel. No one here is supposed to be a full time propagandist, and you are supposedly “An American student” as you claim, not a full time Israel apologist.

As yo know, I often challenge those who criticize Syria’s regional policies, but when they criticize corruption in Syria I do not challenge them … there are things we should not defend.

Justifying the killing 1300 Palestinian people by Israel surely is in bad taste. Try to be more considerate even if you love Israel so much…

If Hamas (or any Arab) just manged to kill 1300 Israelis … do you think I can go on Israeli blogs and defend it and justify it and blame Israel for it?

January 18th, 2009, 8:45 pm

 

jad said:

Alex, I don’t think I asked to ban ‘CHRIS’ or anybody on this blog before (I once asked you to ben ME) , or even to restrict only “him” or one person.
I asked for a restriction on all of us by the amount of comments each person writes. In this way you will get couple good and meaningful comments other than the 100 personal attack and counter attack you are getting now.

January 18th, 2009, 9:02 pm

 

Alex said:

Jad,

I agree it is a good idea, but I can not spend the whole day counting. I will need to program it.

What would be a good number of daily comments for each of you? : )

January 18th, 2009, 9:18 pm

 

jad said:

Alex
(I can not spend the whole day counting) Funny!
I’m not sure about a good number, you can ask the commentators and what they prefer, they may not like this whole idea and start calling me ‘free speech killer’

January 18th, 2009, 9:29 pm

 

Chris said:

Alex you wrote:
“And Chris, please try to not challenge every single comment which is critical of Israel…Justifying the killing 1300 Palestinian people by Israel surely is in bad taste. Try to be more considerate even if you love Israel so much… ”

Fair enough, but I honestly don’t think that I’ve been defending Israel or justifying the operation. Well, outside of doubting the story about Livni having relations with her “victims” while in the Mossad.

I have no objection to applying a comment limit to everyone, however, I would hope that people would refrain from the personal attacks so that I wouldn’t feel obliged to respond to each one.

I really get the sense that everyone has put me in some Likud box, rather than try to understand what I’m saying. I suppose its easier to view people as a jew or an Israeli operative than think that someone may have come to a different conclusion about Hamas simply because of Hamas’ political stance and tactics.

January 18th, 2009, 9:47 pm

 

Post a comment