Monday, January 26, 2009

Middle-East related news...

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi had an op-ed published in the New York Times last week, making the case for--not two--a one-state solution when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here's some excerpts, while I encourage you to read the full op-ed.
But everywhere one looks, among the speeches and the desperate diplomacy, there is no real way forward. A just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians is possible, but it lies in the history of the people of this conflicted land, and not in the tired rhetoric of partition and two-state solutions.

Although it’s hard to realize after the horrors we’ve just witnessed, the state of war between the Jews and Palestinians has not always existed. In fact, many of the divisions between Jews and Palestinians are recent ones. The very name “Palestine” was commonly used to describe the whole area, even by the Jews who lived there, until 1948, when the name “Israel” came into use.

Jews and Muslims are cousins descended from Abraham. Throughout the centuries both faced cruel persecution and often found refuge with one another. Arabs sheltered Jews and protected them after maltreatment at the hands of the Romans and their expulsion from Spain in the Middle Ages.[...]

The basis for the modern State of Israel is the persecution of the Jewish people, which is undeniable. The Jews have been held captive, massacred, disadvantaged in every possible fashion by the Egyptians, the Romans, the English, the Russians, the Babylonians, the Canaanites and, most recently, the Germans under Hitler. The Jewish people want and deserve their homeland.[...]

A two-state solution will create an unacceptable security threat to Israel. An armed Arab state, presumably in the West Bank, would give Israel less than 10 miles of strategic depth at its narrowest point. Further, a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would do little to resolve the problem of refugees. Any situation that keeps the majority of Palestinians in refugee camps and does not offer a solution within the historical borders of Israel/Palestine is not a solution at all.[...]

It is a fact that Palestinians inhabited the land and owned farms and homes there until recently, fleeing in fear of violence at the hands of Jews after 1948 — violence that did not occur, but rumors of which led to a mass exodus. It is important to note that the Jews did not forcibly expel Palestinians. They were never “un-welcomed.” Yet only the full territories of Isratine can accommodate all the refugees and bring about the justice that is key to peace.

Assimilation is already a fact of life in Israel. There are more than one million Muslim Arabs in Israel; they possess Israeli nationality and take part in political life with the Jews, forming political parties. On the other side, there are Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Israeli factories depend on Palestinian labor, and goods and services are exchanged. This successful assimilation can be a model for Isratine.
Israel is allowing Egypt to triple it's presence along the Gaza border.
Ha'aretz on Friday quoted Israeli officials and sources in southern Gaza as saying that the 750-man force appears to be ready to double or triple in a bid to prevent weapons smuggling.

Israel destroyed a majority of an estimated 400 tunnels on the border during the recent Gaza Strip war with Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza.

Israel had in the past resisted allowing the expansion of the Egyptian force out of a reluctance to reopen the terms of its 1978 peace agreement with Egypt.
As far as the United States and Iran goes, the rhetoric of President Obama's nominees appear to show consistency with that of the Bush administration.
Adm. Dennis Blair, Obama's pick for director of intelligence, said in remarks prepared for his Senate confirmation hearings that the United States should reach out to sympathetic actors in Iran, consistent with the Bush administration's policies of cultivating Iranians who oppose the theocracy.

"While policymakers need to understand anti-American leaders, policies and actions in Iran, the intelligence community can also help policymakers identify and understand other leaders and political forces, so that it is possible to work toward a future in both our interests," Blair said, according to Reuters in a report Thursday.

Obama's Treasury pick, Timothy Geithner, praised his Bush administration predecessors for their efforts to isolate Iran's financial system in a bid to end the Islamic Republic's suspected nuclear weapons program.
This does not bode well for the peace process:
Also Sunday, Hamas official Osama Hamdan told a rally in Beirut that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement must end peace negotiations and security cooperation with Israel before any reconciliation talks between the two groups can start.
Finally, a report came out that expects a rise in anti-Semitism.
new wave of anti-Semitism is expected due to Israel's operation in Gaza and the global financial crisis, according to a new Israeli report.

The expected surge in anti-Semitism for 2009 was predicted in a report released Sunday by the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism, the official Israeli forum against anti-Semitism. The forum is sponsored by the Jewish Agency, the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry for Diaspora Affairs.

The 250 anti-Semitic attacks reported throughout the world during the three weeks of Israel's military operation in Gaza represented a more than 300 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

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