Middle East: Well not totally alone, but if the Swiss are all you have at this point, you are pretty much screwed given the circumstances. But Steele's piece is a classic example of bias against Israel that makes the Guardian the Guardian.
|Its statement stands in contrast to the European Union's shamefully muted voice. The Palestinians kill two soldiers and take one prisoner and, in response, power stations are blown up, sewage and water systems grind to a halt, bridges are destroyed, sonic booms terrify children day and night, and all this is inflicted on a hungry people who are under siege in what is effectively a huge open prison. The EU's response? Vague expressions of "concern" and calls for "restraint".|
So what is the magic number so the response is proper, a whole town? One soldier got take hostage is enough to bring out the heavy weaponery. A weak response would just encourage all the Hamas and Fatah groups to do worse over time.
|Refusing contact with Hamas was equally mistaken, especially as Hamas had maintained a unilateral ceasefire for over a year (a point which Israel tries to suppress). The fact that Hamas is defined as a terrorist organisation need not have been a bar, since governments have spoken to similar movements with nationalist agendas, be it the IRA, the Tamil Tigers, or Eta. But again, thank goodness for the Swiss. As non-EU members, they keep contact with Hamas and act as intermediaries for other European governments which have trapped themselves into not doing the same.
The outcome of the current crisis is unclear. However it ends, the moment has surely come for Europe to break from its useless policy of backing the US and Israel. The Olmert government is trying to destroy not only Hamas but Mahmoud Abbas. Like Sharon's, it wants to undermine every moderate Palestinian by showing them up as powerless. It seeks only domination, not negotiation. Whether the ultimate agenda is to starve all Palestinians into fleeing to Egypt, Jordan and even further afield, or merely to keep Gaza as a prison of the unemployed and the West Bank as a bunch of Bantustans, Israeli policy mocks every UN resolution on the conflict.
The EU should admit that the Palestinians have no partner for peace. They will only have one if Israel recognises Palestine's right to function. Statements that Israel recognises a Palestinian state's right to exist are empty as long as Olmert expands Jewish settlements and the separation wall, and refuses to spell out how that state can operate as a viable entity. Without the right to function, the right to exist is hollow.|
I will tell you the secret for the Palestinians to get their state up and running, Israel to stop the beatdowns and peace to break out in the Middle East. If Hamas renounces violence, acknowledges Israel right to exist, stop shooting rockets all over the place and sending suicide bombers. The ability to act like a civilized society would make aggression by Israel useless. It will never happen so the beatdowns will continue until the lesson is learned.