Words are Hollow, Actions Tell- Let Us Hope
"We agreed that all Palestinians will stop all acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere, and, at the same time, Israel will cease all its military activity against all Palestinians anywhere," Sharon said at the end of a carefully-scripted summit in this Egyptian Red Sea resort town.
Some pretty encouraging news to post; the possibility of an end to the violence in Israel/Palestine. The article linked reminds us that this is not a ceasefire, rather it is the begining of negotiations that may possibly lead to a ceasefire.
I am not naive, but do hold hope in my heart for justice for the Palestinian people living under occupation for the last 38 years in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The whole world is watching events there; we will see if Israeli violents foments the usual eye for eye that scuttles any talk of peace, of settlements dismantled and lands returned in accord with UN resolutions and the text of the current "Road Map".
Here's the rub:
And while Sharon announced he would end military violence against Palestinians, senior Israeli government officials warned that troops would continue to conduct operations against militants they believe are preparing to conduct attacks against Israelis. The officials also said the Israeli military is maintaining its heavy presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"We must move forward cautiously," Sharon said. "This is a very fragile opportunity that the extremists will want to exploit. They want to close the window of opportunity for us and allow our two peoples to drown in their blood."
The emphasis in the above quote is mine. Sharon is quoted as saying "Israel will cease all its military activity against all Palestinians anywhere" but senior government officials belie his statement with their warning that IDF troops will continue to conduct pre-emptive operations against Palestinian citizens.
Is it just me or does it seem the Israeli government is foremost in control of this process and its outcome? As best as I can tell from the information offered one IDF extrajudicial killing could shatter the fragile peace crafted by Abbas among the various political groups in Occupied Palestine. Or one suicide bombing, true, but suicide bombings are most often retaliatory in nature if my reading of events is correct. My question: Who has the most to gain from violence as a peace process begins?
In telephone interviews, leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad said they would study Israel's position at the summit before deciding whether to honor the agreement between Abbas and Sharon.
"We want to see first that the Israeli side is serious and delivers the goods," said a spokesman for Islamic Jihad, Nafez Azzam.
A Hamas spokesman, Mushir Masri, said it was "premature" to declare his group's intentions, adding, "I think that the Hamas movement and the other factions are all committed to a cease-fire if the Israelis fulfill their obligations." These include releasing Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails and ending assassinations of guerrilla leaders.
Sharon controls a centralized state military apparatus. Abbas is striving to bring together independent factions, including Hamas. Did you know that Likud, the far right Israeli political party that Sharon now heads helped bring Hamas about? Most Americans don't. Currying this new group was seen as a way to weaken Arafat and the PLO.
I offer this UPI link that spells out some of the groups history. This article "Sharons Terror Child" also gives us a glimpse into this little known(in the US) fact.
"The thinking on the part of some of the right-wing Israeli establishment was that Hamas and the others, if they gained control, would refuse to have any part of the peace process and would torpedo any agreements put in place," said a U.S. government official who asked not to be named.
"Israel would still be the only democracy in the region for the United States to deal with," he said.
All of which disgusts some former U.S. intelligence officials.
"The thing wrong with so many Israeli operations is that they try to be too sexy," said former CIA official Vincent Cannestraro.
According to former State Department counter-terrorism official Larry Johnson, "the Israelis are their own worst enemies when it comes to fighting terrorism."
Sharon is in the drivers seat concerning peace in Israel/Palestine. Peace would mean that Israel would need to conform to international law, pulling back to 1967 borders. That all the illegal settlement activities he has presided over, his "facts on the ground" as it is stated need to be abandoned.
The institutionalized Israeli settlement system is illegal under international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949, of which Israel is a signatory party, prohibits in all cases the transfer of parts of the civilian population of the occupuying Power into the territory it occupies. The Convention, as well as the Hague Convention on the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its Annexed Regulations of 1907, which constitute customary international law, prohibit the destruction, seizure, confiscation and even expropriation of private or public properties in occupied territories (except when absolutely necessary for military reasons).
The applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 has been asserted by the International Committee of the Red Cross, United Nations organs and agencies as well as by every country in the world. The Security Council, in X resolutions, reaffirmed the applicability of the Convention to the occupied territories, including Jerusalem. The Council has specifically dealt with the issue of settlements, establishing a Commission in this regard, and considers settlements to be illegal and an obstacle to peace. (Resolutions on changing of demographic character.) Further, settlements as a means of colonizing Palestinian and Arab land, which might result in depriving the Palestinian people of their right to self-determination, violate the Charter of the United Nations, human rights covenants, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and the Declaration on Decolonization and the Granting of Independence to Indigenous Peoples.
I hope for peace but await Israeli violence that will bring about a Palestinian response. An extrajudicial murder, an innocent child shot. The disparity between the Sharon statement of non-aggression and the quote from the Israeli senior official seem to indicate this possibilty sadly enough. I hope my reading of this article and my knowledge of recent history are wrong.
This quote from yesterday might add some weight to my thought process and the conclusions I have drawn:
"It could be that a majority is crystallizing on both sides that agrees, even through gritted teeth, to making an historic compromise," Yemini wrote. (But) everything could collapse with one lethal boom. And as we know, both sides have large reserves of lunatics to call on."
Despite assurances from Palestinian leaders that a de facto ceasefire is already in place, sporadic rocket and mortar fire against Israeli targets continues in the Gaza Strip.
Egyptian security officials, working at the behest of the summit's host, President Hosni Mubarak, were in Gaza yesterday in an ongoing effort to negotiate a full end to violence.
Israeli rejectionists also remain active. A group of hardline nationalist rabbis yesterday announced special sessions in as many as 100 synagogues to pray for the failure of tomorrow's summit.
"The objective is to prevent the prime minister from committing the error of giving up parts of Eretz Israel (Biblical Israel), which belongs to the Jewish people," Rabbi Yitzhak Batzri told Israeli army radio, in reference to the planned Gaza withdrawal.