Der Spiegel: Former Peace Negotiators Call for End to Hamas Boycott

by matttbastard

This is big:

They were part of the peace settlements in Cambodia, Somalia and Bosnia, they negotiated with militant groups like the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka or the IRA in Northern Ireland and a few of them were also engaged in the Middle East peace process. Fourteen elder statesmen from Europe, Australia, South America, Africa and Asia are calling in an open letter for the Mideast Quartet, comprised of the European Union, United Nations, Russia and the United States, to end their diplomatic boycott against Hamas.

The signatories of the letter, which is being published exclusively by SPIEGEL ONLINE in Germany and the Times of London on Thursday, include former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami; Alvaro de Soto, who served as the UN envoy for the Middle East Quartet from 2005 to 2007; Lord Chris Patten, the former British governor of Hong Kong and European Commissioner; and Lord Paddy Ashdown, who served as the High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina and oversaw the implementation of the Dayton Accords.

[…]

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Ben-Ami told SPIEGEL ONLINE the letter was directed equally at the European Union and the United States, but also at Israel. “Israel has to start thinking outside the box. I can recall the case of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO didn’t recognize Israel as a precondition, but as a result of the Olso process. The same should happen with Hamas.”

The letter (PDF format)

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Al Jazeera English: Israeli electioneering gathers pace

by matttbastard

Related: JPost: Likud, Kadima escalate mutual attacks:

The Likud and Kadima parties intensified their attacks against each other on Sunday after the cease-fire took effect in the Gaza Strip, formally ending Operation Cast Lead and restarting the election campaign.

The first polls taken after the cease-fire took effect indicated that the Right in general and the Likud in particular had been helped by the war.

A Channel 2/Ma’agar Mohot poll predicted that the Right-Center bloc would win 65 seats and the Left-Center bloc 55. A Channel 10/Dialog poll put the divide at 64-56. The first poll predicted a 31-23 Likud victory over Kadima, while the latter said Likud would win 29-26.

The Channel 2 poll found that 36 percent of Israelis wanted Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu to become prime minister, 21% preferred Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and 14% Labor chairman Ehud Barak.

In an effort to build on its lead, the Likud announced Sunday night that it would begin a new campaign under the slogan, “Netanyahu: Strong on security, strong on the economy.” The party will make a decision in upcoming days about whether to also renew its negative campaign with the slogan “Tzipi Livni: Out of her league.”

[…]

On a visit to Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, Netanyahu was careful to offer veiled criticism of the cease-fire while extolling the virtues of the IDF.

“We have a strong people and a strong military that dealt a harsh blow to the Hamas, but unfortunately the work is still not done,” Netanyahu said. “The Hamas still controls Gaza and will still try to smuggle weapons into Gaza via the Philadelphi Corridor. We cannot show weakness against Hamas and its Iranian supporters. We need a strong, unwavering, persistent hand until the threat is eliminated.”

Elsewhere: Eyal Press, blogging at Ta-Nehisi Coates’ pad, on the “generational rift” in the US that was exposed by the War in Gaza between “the likes of Alan Dershowitz and William Kristol” and “a growing circle of young Jewish bloggers: Spencer Ackerman, Ezra Klein, Matthew Yglesias, Dana Goldstein.”

Also see Beijing York and (she’s back!) Godammitkitty on Gaza, Israel and the subjectivity of ‘terrorism’ and Faiz Shakir of Think Progress, who details how Israel is readying the post-war propaganda battle for international public opinion.

Flashback: Haaretz:

The Foreign Ministry has created a special task force to prepare for the aftermath of the Israel Defense Forces’ Gaza operation. The team will submit proposals for two of the army’s main concerns – Iran and Hamas taking control of Gaza’s postwar reconstruction, and the harm the offensive might cause to Israel’s image abroad.

One of the task force’s missions is to draft recommendations for the Strip’s rehabilitation. The ministry hopes to avoid a situation similar to the one in southern Lebanon after the 2006 Second Lebanon War. There, Iran sent hundreds of millions of dollars to Hezbollah to transfer to families whose homes had been destroyed, burnishing the militant group’s reputation among the population.

The goal is to allow the Palestinian Authority, as well as Arab and international entities, to lead reconstruction efforts and funding, taking credit for Gaza’s rehabilitation in place of Hamas or Iran.

The task force will also be charged with repairing damage to Israel’s image abroad as a result of the Gaza operation. The working assumption is that Israel has suffered a blow to its image in the West in the wake of heavy civilian casualties in the Strip.

Israeli officials believe after the fighting stops and foreign journalists are allowed entry into the territory that negative sentiment toward Israel will only grow as the full picture of destruction emerges.

h/t Alison @ BnR

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It burns, it burns…

by matttbastard

Shorter (heh) Five Feet of Batshit: “Inapt analogies + diplomatic maneuvering = A RISE IN ANTISEMITISM IN VENEZUELA!!!!1one

Dear fucking God–a permanent cloud of noxious disingenuity positively wafts off that intellectually odious individual.

h/t Brooks Bayne via tweet

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Milestones.

by matttbastard

BBC News breaks out the passive voice to acknowledge a grim milestone:

The Ministry of Health in Gaza said 1,013 people have died in the conflict which started 19 days ago.

More than 300 of the dead are said to be children, 76 are women and more than 4,500 people have been injured, of whom 1,600 are children and 678 are women.

Thirteen Israelis have been killed, including three civilians and one soldier from rockets fired from Gaza and nine soldiers killed in fighting in Gaza.

The Beeb helpfully includes the following graphs in its report, starkly illustrating how the Palestinian mortality rate just happened to escalate in concert with hostilities (funny how that works out):

weeeee

If only the global markets were moving in that direction (and at such a rapid incline).

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I don’t think wingnuts should be anywhere allowed blog.

by matttbastard

DRJ, squatting at Patterico’s pad, plops out this wet, stinky turd-like nugget of what passes for insight deep in the bowels of Outer Wingnuttia, regarding Joe the Plumber War Correspondent’s recent, um, statement on the SCLM and its uber-treasonous war coverage:

I know this drives liberals crazy — they think we’re rednecks. Maybe we are but I love this guy.

No, we actually think you’re an idiot.  The fact that you unabashedly “love this guy” (and have apparently deluded yourself into believing that the Left is collectively pissing its Chinos over the subliterate fauxpulist wisdom of Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher) perfectly illustrates precisely why we think you’re an idiot–and why you and your fellow travellers are all now irrelevant.

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Israel, Palestine and Demographic Realities

by matttbastard

Gershom Gorenberg, writing in the Jan-Feb issue of Foreign Policy, outlines the cold, harsh reality with regards to the efficacy of any so-called two-state solution (where Israel and the former occupied territories revert to pre-1967 borders, Israelis and Palestinians set aside lingering grievance and resentment to the delight of the global community, and Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft subsequently distribute free ponies for everyone!):

From my home in West Jerusalem, the road that Israelis use to head south toward Hebron runs through two tunnels in the mountains. Known simply as the Tunnel Road, it was built in the mid-1990s during the Oslo peace process, when Bethlehem was turned over to Palestinian rule and Israelis wanted a way to bypass the town on their way to settlements that remained in Israeli hands.

A turn from the Tunnel Road takes you past the Palestinian village of Hussan to Beitar Illit, a settlement covering two hills. The streets are lined with apartment buildings, faced in rough-cut, yellowish-white stone, all with red-tile roofs, so alike they could have been turned out by the same factory. In 1993, when Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands and peace seemed close enough to touch, about 4,000 people lived in Beitar Illit. Now, 34,000 live here, and more will soon move in.

The message written on the landscape is simple: Every day, the settlements expand. Every day, Israel grows more entangled in the West Bank. To a large degree, the Israeli and Palestinian publics have accepted the need for a two-state solution. But time, and the construction crews, are working against it. No one knows exactly where the point of no return is—when so many Israelis will have moved into so many homes beyond the pre-1967 border that there is no going back. But each passing day brings that tipping point nearer. If a solution is not achieved quickly, it might soon be out of reach.

According to Gorenberg, “[i]n 1993, when the Oslo process began, 116,000 Israelis lived in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank… . Last year, when Olmert resigned and elections were announced, the number of settlers in the West Bank had passed 290,000, living alongside 2.2 million Palestinians.”  And, following elections in February, “more than 300,000 Israelis are likely to be living in the West Bank, with the number continuing to climb [all emph. mine].”

Remember, several years back, the domestic PR headache posed by engaging in the forced removal of angry, militant Israeli settlers from their homes in Gaza?

Yeah, that–all over again, only with at least 35 times the population to send packing.

So, when people act as if a viable choice between pursuing a single or two-state solution with Israel and the former occupied territories still exists, one must first account for a very precious non-renewable resource, one that, as noted by Gorenberg, is in increasingly short supply:

Time.

Related
: John Bolton shows why he’s the AEI’s new go-to guy for solving tough diplomatic conundrums with his latest op-ed in the Washington Post, in which he proposes a three (yes, three) state zombie solution to Israel’s current post-colonial woes.  Yeah, that’s a brilliant idea — simply foist the entire Palestinian problem onto Egypt and Jordan, using all the diplomatic leverage that the US has accrued in the Middle East over the past 8 years (especially the past 6).  I’m sure that’ll fly in Cairo and Amman–especially if Brzezinski and Scowcroft throw in extra ponies to account for the extra state involved.

OMG PONIES!

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Gaza: The Bottom Line

by matttbastard

Contra collective punishment apologist Alan Dershowitz (who, with his post-9/11 embrace of “torture warrants”, has long forfeited any moral authority he may have once possessed), Chris Hedges starkly charts the ethical and practical landscape where Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza ultimately resides:

Privilege and power, especially military power, is a dangerous narcotic. Violence destroys those who bear the brunt of its force, but also those who try to use it to become gods. Over 350 Palestinians have been killed, many of them civilians, and over 1,000 have been wounded since the air attacks began on Saturday. Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, said Israel is engaged in a “war to the bitter end” against Hamas in Gaza. A war? Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely crowded refugee camps and slums, to attack a population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanized armor, no command and control, no army, and calls it a war. It is not a war. It is murder.

[…]

The Israelis in Gaza, like the American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, are foolishly breeding the next generation of militants and Islamic radicals. Jihadists, enraged by the injustices done by Israel and the United States, seek to carry out reciprocal acts of savagery, even at the cost of their own lives. The violence unleashed on Palestinian children will, one day, be the violence unleashed on Israeli children. This is the tragedy of Gaza. This is the tragedy of Israel.

Those who forget the past

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There Goes the Neighbourhood

by matttbastard

The New York Times:

Israel’s military operation in Gaza is aimed primarily at forcing Hamas to end its rocket barrages and military buildup. But it has another goal as well: to expunge the ghost of its flawed 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon and re-establish Israeli deterrence.

[…]

“In the cabinet room today there was an energy, a feeling that after so long of showing restraint we had finally acted,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, speaking of the weekly government meeting that he attended.

Mark Heller, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said that that energy reflected the deep feeling among average Israelis that the country had to regain its deterrent capacity.

“There has been a nagging sense of uncertainty in the last couple years of whether anyone is really afraid of Israel anymore,” he said. “The concern is that in the past — perhaps a mythical past — people didn’t mess with Israel because they were afraid of the consequences. Now the region is filled with provocative rhetoric about Israel the paper tiger. This operation is an attempt to re-establish the perception that if you provoke or attack you are going to pay a disproportionate price.

Which is, essentially, a banal affirmation of what Gideon Levy wrote yesterday:

The IDF launched a war yesterday whose end, as usual, is hoping someone watches over us.

[…]

A hero against the weak, it bombed dozens of targets from the air [Saturday], and the pictures of blood and fire are designed to show Israelis, Arabs and the entire world that the neighborhood bully’s strength has yet to wane. When the bully is on a rampage, nobody can stop him.

Y’know, most people respond to a midlife crisis of confidence by purchasing an impractical European sports car, or perhaps having a May-December relationship–not dropping heavy munitions on the neighbours (even if they are a pain in the ass sometimes). At least no one is accusing Barak of being soft (on Palestinian rocket fire) anymore.  Who needs little blue pills when you can call for a series of devastating air strikes, eh?

Related: Rabbi Michael Lerner says the best way to “destroy Hamas” is for Israel to “rebuild Gaza and the West Bank with a massive Marshall Plan type enterprise—adopt our Strategy of Generosity and renounce the strategy of domination.”

h/t Kai Chang (by way of Sylvia/M via IM)

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