Saturday, March 17, 2007

Peace in Palestine

I can only hope, that the little we do on dailykos to keep the Israeli Palestinian conflict in the public's eye will help bring this issue to a final resolution.

The rock is being pushed up hill an inch at a time. We can't stop now, the world is watching.

Somehow, we need to convince the powers that be, that there is more success and joy in building instead of destroying.

Time to decommission the war machine and fund organizations like an international Army Corp of Engineers. Build infrastructure, quit bombing it.


GAZA CITY (AP) -- Political rivals Hamas and Fatah reached a final agreement on forming a unity government Wednesday, wrapping up months of coalition negotiations aimed at ending bloody internal fighting and lifting international sanctions against the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said he would present the new government to parliament this weekend for final approval.


Both sides hope the alliance will bring the Palestinians out of international isolation after a yearlong boycott of the Hamas-led government. Israel and Western countries have reacted coolly to the deal, but say they are waiting for final details before deciding whether to lift the embargo.

New goverment:

The new government's platform includes only a vague pledge to "respect" past peace deals, falling short of explicit recognition of Israel.

It also affirms the Palestinians' right to resist and "defend themselves against any Israeli aggression."

While many in the West consider "resistance" to be a code-word for violent attacks, Palestinians have a wide variety of definitions that can encompass anything from armed attacks to street protests.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said his government will boycott the coalition government and encourage other countries to do the same because its program falls short of the international conditions for acceptance that include recognition of the Jewish state.

"Unfortunately the new Palestinian government seems to have said no to the three benchmarks of the international community," Regev said. "Accordingly, Israel will not deal with this new government and we hope the international community will stand firmly by its own principles and refuse to deal with a government that says no to peace and no to reconciliation."

The only way to influence the new government is to ENGAGE it.

To be a fly on the wall:

Olmert to tackle withdrawal, Iran
in Washington meetings this week

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faces his first major diplomatic meeting this week in Washington, where he hopes to win Bush’s backing for his West Bank withdrawal plan and close ranks on Iran’s nuclear program.

Building a potent future:

Japan, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians have agreed on a plan to build an agro-industrial park in the occupied West Bank at a conference hosted by Tokyo.

A Japan-backed agreement for economic co-operation between Israel and the Palestinians could help to stem violence in the Middle East, a joint statement said.

But they also said that such economic co-operation, though important, was predicated on security and political progress.

Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian negotiator, told the conference session on Thursday that a political solution was necessary for economic co-operation to flourish.

"Can regional co-operation be translated into a political solution? Can we achieve prosperity for Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians while the Israeli occupation continues?

"Any plans will be meaningless without progress in the peace process," he said.

Water issues

Erekat also urged Israel to take immediate steps to show its commitment to economic co-operation, such as giving Palestinians in the West Bank more control over water resources.

Glad to hear this:

The Bush administration´s opposition to aspects of Israel´s West Bank security barrier is spurring the U.S. to stay out of a case over the fence at the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

What Israel can do to quit inflaming Arabs:

Unesco urges halt to Jerusalem dig
Unesco says Israel has already excavated the site enough to complete their pathway project [AP]
A report by UN experts has called on Israel to halt excavations near Jerusalem's most sacred Islamic site and proceed only under international supervision.

Israel's archaeological excavation, taking place 50m from a compound revered by both Muslims and Jews, have led to protests across the world.

The Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), whose experts have visited the site, issued a report on Wednesday questioning a "lack of a clear work plan setting the limits of the activity, opening the possibility of extensive and unnecessary excavations".

Still in the news:

West Bank Sites on Private Land, Data Shows

JERUSALEM, March 13 — An up-to-date Israeli government register shows that 32.4 percent of the property held by Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is private, according to the advocacy group that sued the government to obtain the data.

The group, Peace Now, prepared an earlier report in November, also provided to The New York Times, based on a 2004 version of the Israeli government database that had been provided by an official who wanted the information published. Those figures showed that 38.8 percent of the land on which Israeli settlements were built was listed as private Palestinian land.

The data shows a pattern of illegal seizure of private land that the Israeli government has been reluctant to acknowledge or to prosecute, according to the Peace Now report. Israel has long asserted that it fully respects Palestinian private property in the West Bank and takes land there only legally or, for security reasons, temporarily. That large sections of those settlements are now confirmed by official data to be privately held land is bound to create embarrassment for Israel and further complicate the already distant prospect of a negotiated peace.

Olmert finally begins baby steps in the West Bank?

With West Bank withdrawal looming,
Israel prepares to move on outposts

In a first major test of Israel’s plans for a large-scale West Bank withdrawal, the government is gearing up for a showdown with extremists in four unauthorized outposts.

American Jewish organizations influencing USA foreign policies, not all good:

Aside from that brief reference, however, the Times made no mention of the role that money, or lobbying in general, may have played in the lopsided vote. More specifically, the Times made no mention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It's a remarkable oversight. AIPAC is widely regarded as the most powerful foreign-policy lobby in Washington. Its 60,000 members shower millions of dollars on hundreds of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. It also maintains a network of wealthy and influential citizens around the country, whom it can regularly mobilize to support its main goal, which is making sure there is "no daylight" between the policies of Israel and of the United States.

So, when Congress votes so decisively in support of Israel, it's no accident. Yet, surveying US newspaper coverage of the Middle East in recent months, I found next to nothing about AIPAC and its influence. The one account of any substance appeared in the Washington Post, in late April. Reporting on AIPAC's annual conference, correspondent Mike Allen noted that the attendees included half the Senate, ninety members of the House and thirteen senior Administration officials, including White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who drew a standing ovation when he declared in Hebrew, "The people of Israel live." Showing its "clout," Allen wrote, AIPAC held "a lively roll call of the hundreds of dignitaries, with individual cheers for each." Even this article, however, failed to probe beneath the surface and examine the lobbying and fundraising techniques AIPAC uses to lock up support in Congress.

AIPAC is not the only pro-Israel organization to escape scrutiny. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, though little known to the general public, has tremendous influence in Washington, especially with the executive branch. Based in New York, the conference is supposed to give voice to the fifty-two Jewish organizations that sit on its board, but in reality it tends to reflect the views of its executive vice chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein. Hoenlein has long had close ties to Israel's Likud Party. In the 1990s he helped raise money for settlers' groups on the West Bank, and today he regularly refers to that region as "Judea and Samaria," a biblically inspired catch phrase used by conservatives to justify the presence of Jewish settlers there. A skilled and articulate operative, Hoenlein uses his access to the State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council to push for a strong Israel. He's so effective at it that the Jewish newspaper the Forward, in its annual list of the fifty most important American Jews, has ranked Hoenlein first.

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